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Mar 21, 4:45 PM EDT

NJ's 2014 tourism ads don't feature Christie


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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey tourism officials say Gov. Chris Christie won't be in this year's commercials trying to entice tourists to visit the state.

The governor and his family starred in last year's "Stronger than the Storm" campaign that promoted coming to the state after Superstorm Sandy.

Some criticized his appearance in the commercial during a re-election year, especially when it was reported that the state paid to hire an ad firm that wanted to use Christie instead of one that did not propose featuring the governor.

This year's campaign is called "Going Strong," and state Economic Development Authority spokeswoman Virginia Pellerin said the first commercials will run in April.

New Jersey officials hope to use $5 million in federal disaster relief funds to help pay for it, but they don't yet have final approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

They also plan to use $1.3 million left over from last year's campaign. The budget beyond that is not yet set.

Tourism promoters said last year's campaign was good, but its launch on Memorial Day weekend came too late to have maximum impact on people deciding their summer plans.

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