TRENTON — A state senator who endorsed businessman Donald Trump over Gov. Chris Christie when he was in the presidential campaign is welcoming the governor to the team.

GOP Sen. Michael Doherty said Christie’s endorsement of Trump should make it easier for Trump to win the June 7 state primary.

“I think it’s great news that he’s endorsing Donald Trump,” said Doherty, who represents a conservative district in North Jersey.

Christie announced he would back the billionaire New Yorker at a press conference Friday in Fort Worth, Texas. His endorsement came the day former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman gave her support to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, saying he’s the only “voice of reason and optimism in a very loud room.”

Doherty backed Trump in October while much of the state’s GOP establishment, including the party’s two top leaders in the Legislature and the state party chairman, backed Christie.

Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 700,000 voters in New Jersey, but Doherty said he thinks Trump’s ideas on immigration, trade and the Middle East transcend typical right-versus-left politics. Trump has said he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, U.S. trade negotiators are weak and it’s risky to take in Syrian refugees because terrorists could be among them.

Other New Jersey Republicans did not immediately embrace Christie’s endorsement of Trump, whose unfavorable rating was at 57 percent in the most recent Rutgers Eagleton poll of state voters.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick did not respond when asked Friday if they would back Trump. Kean pointed out that Christie has “always emphasized his preference for a candidate with executive” experience.

Doherty had earlier criticized Christie for not doing enough to help Republicans get elected when he ran for re-election as governor in 2013, saying he could have done more campaign events. But that’s in the past, Doherty said, predicting the state party would get behind Trump.

“I’m thrilled that means New Jersey is going to coalesce behind his candidacy,” he said.

Christie said at the press conference in Fort Worth that Trump "will do what needs to be done to protect the American people."

Christie is one of the first governors to endorse Trump's bid for the presidency. He is the first former Republican candidate to endorse Trump. 

Christie dropped out of the Republican nomination for president on Feb. 10, a day after his disappointing sixth-place finish in New Hampshire's primary. Trump notched a caucus win in Nevada on Tuesday. 

“I ran for president to say that the government needs to once again work for the people, not the people work for the government,” Christie said in a Facebook post. “And while running for president I tried to reinforce what I have always believed — that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters and that it will always matter in leading our nation. That message was heard by and stood for by a lot of people, but just not enough and that’s ok.”

Before dropping out of the race, Christie had been banking on a strong finish in New Hampshire and spent more than 70 days campaigning in the state, holding well-received town halls and meet-and-greets.

According to an NBC News report from November, if Donald Trump were to get the nomination from the GOP, he would not be opposed to having Christie as a running mate.

Someone at Trump’s event in Manchester, N.H. asked him what he thought of Christie, and if he could be a potential vice president candidate.

"He did very well last night," the report said Trump told the audience. "Good guy. Well, there certainly could be a place for him, I can tell you that."

Trump and Christie are not strangers to each other. Trump has done business in New Jersey for many years, with a concentration in Atlantic City.

Never miss breaking news as it happens! Sign up now to receive alerts delivered to your inbox.

Breaking News Reporter

Recommended for you

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.