- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Environmental, education and labor activists along with the heckler whom Gov. Chris Christie once told to “sit down and shut up” braved frigid temperatures Tuesday to protest his policies before his state of the state address.

About 80 people gathered outside the statehouse to denounce Christie, criticizing his handling of the economy, school funding, public pension reform and the environment.

“Can a brother get a job in New Jersey?” called out Gerard Burns, of Paterson, who said he’s concerned about unemployment in the state’s cities, particularly Paterson.

New Jersey Working Families director Analilia Mejia said Christie’s speech is a smoke screen for a presidential campaign.

“Despite all of his rhetoric about being fiscally responsible, a straight shooter, Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly taken actions that have failed New Jersey,” she said.

Jim Keady said the governor should give up national ambitions and focus on helping residents who are rebuilding their homes, more than two years after Superstorm Sandy. Keady gained notoriety when Christie told him to sit down and shut up during an October event in Belmar.

Keady, who said he was a political independent, was pessimistic that the governor would signal a turnaround in the speech.

“We believe it will be a lot of spin and posture for the national media for his presidential aspirations,” he said. “The individuals out here in this frigid weather are trying to give the state of the state from the people’s perspective.”

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