Gov. Chris Christie is in "good spirits" this afternoon at Somerset Medical Center after being taken to the Somerville hospital with breathing complications Thursday morning.
Christie, 48, felt out of breath while he was being driven to a bill-signing event in Hillsborough, Maria Comella, deputy chief of staff for communications for the governor's office, said at a news conference at the medical center Thursday afternoon.
According to Comella, doctors described Christie's condition as having asthma-like symptoms. Christie, who cleared his last physical in fall 2010, regularly carries an inhaler with him, Comella said. Christie's breathing complications Thursday were caused by his asthma, Comella said.
Christie, who has suffered from asthma since he was 15, was given an EKG and chest X-Ray, but no problems were found, Comella said.
Christie, whose wife, Mary Pat, was at the hospital, was expected to leave the medical center early Thursday evening, Comella said. Christie is expected to make a statement at that time.
Christie was to sign three land preservation and open space bills at Doyle’s Farm in Hillsborough at 10:30 a.m. Christie, however, never made it to the event.
The event will be rescheduled, though Hillsborough Township Administrator Mike Merdinger could not comment when the bill signing would occur or whether it would still be in Hillsborough.
The bills will to increase funding for open space and land preservation throughout the state, with the signing occurring at one of the 10,000 acres of preserved land in Hillsborough.
“It effects all the towns in the state,” Merdinger said. “The bill is for open space, not directly for farmland, but open space is open space.”
Two bills. S2858, and S2859, were approved by the State Senate and Assembly in June.
According to the bill text, S2859 would appropriate $45 million from the state’s 2009 Green Acres fund and $12 million from the 2009 Blue Acres fund for State acquisition of land. The bill would require the land to be used for conservation and recreation purposes.
Bill S2858 would appropriate $14 million from the 2009 Green Acres Fund and the Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund for grants to non profit entities. The entities would be required to use the funds to acquire or develop the lands for recreation and conservation purposes.
Bill S2897 would appropriate $23,588,760 from 2009 Farmland Preservation Fund and the Garden State Farmland Preservation Trust Fund to the State Agricultural Development Committee for farmland preservation, according to the bill text.
Farmers Kathy and Jim Doyle learned they would host the governor on Wednesday afternoon, but had no comment about the bill signing cancellation.
“It’s not everyday the governor comes,” Kathy Doyle said. “People love to see open space, so I think it’s a great thing.”
A spokeswoman for the governor's office confirmed that Christie retained full executive authority Thursday and that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has not taken over as the state's acting governor.
"Governor Christie this morning was having difficulty breathing, and, out of an abundance of caution, went to Somerset Medical Center to be checked out," Michael Drewniak, spokesman for the governor's office, said at the Hillsborough farm after announcing the governor was not able to make the event. "In line with someone dealing with asthma, he is being given routine tests as a precautionary measure."
A spokeswoman for Somerset Medical Center declined to comment on Christie's condition and referred all questions to the governor's office.
"The governor is extremely grateful for the quality of care he was receiving this morning and has nothing but praise for the world-class doctors, nurses and staff who are attending him," Drewniak said. "He is fine, but more tests are going on."
Patch will continue to update this story.
John Celock contributed to this story.