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HOWARD — One of the Republican Party’s rising national stars came to Gov. Scott Walker’s defense in the gubernatorial recall campaign.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joined Walker Tuesday at a campaign fundraiser and urged a crowd of supporters to rally around “a good and decent, honest man.”

Saying that Walker’s agenda has brought Wisconsin “common-sense reforms,” Christie depicted the embattled Republican governor as a person who puts principle over politics.

“He’s got a record to be extraordinarily proud of,” Christie said. “We have an obligation to stand with him.”

Walker faces a recall election June 5 sparked by his successful effort to end collective bargaining powers for most public union employees, including teachers.

Christie, a first-term governor in New Jersey, considered entering the presidential race. His name is frequently floated as a potential running mate for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

More than 250 people paid $100 each to attend today’s event at the Rock Garden Conference Center, although some paid $2,500 a couple to attend a special private event with Christie.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, one of the Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to run against Walker, issued a statement criticizing the governor for aligning himself with Christie.

Barrett said both Republican governors are pursuing “extreme agendas.”

Barrett faces three other Democrats in the May 8 primary — former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma and Gladys Huber, who is a Republican running as a Democrat. The winner will go on to face Walker in the June recall.

“While Scott Walker and Chris Christie are perfect for each other, they are both flat-out wrong for Wisconsin,” he said.

Outside the event, about 30 protesters were joined by Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who has garnered little attention as a Republican challenging Walker in next week’s recall primary.

Kohl-Riggs questioned why the incumbent governor was relying on an out-of-state Republican leader to make his case for staying in office.

The crowd inside, however, gave Walker an enthusiastic reception as he sought their support to derail what he described as the “special interests” seeking his ouster.

Defeating the recall effort, he said, would send a message to other states about pursuing reforms similar to those he has championed on taxation, education and organized labor.

“It’ll send a message all across this country,” he said. “It is time to do the right thing, and when you do the right thing, the voters will be there with you.”

— Scott Williams writes for the Green Bay Press-Gazette; on Twitter @pgscottwilliams.

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