We’re hearing plenty about Bridgegate and Governor Christie’s response to it from cable news pundits and late night comedians. MMM thought it would be interesting to hear what our Monmouth County leaders, from both parties, have to say about the controversy and Christie’s response to it at his press conference last Thursday.
Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long, said “No, and I’m angry that some are tossing by name around as if I’m waffling about my endorsement,” when we asked her if she regretted endorsing Christie in light of the Bridgegate scandal. “Bridgegate is terrible, but it does not undue the Sandy recovery. My endorsement was based on the Sandy recovery. Let’s wait and see what happens when all the facts come out. Right now it’s a feeding frenzy.”
Senator Jennifer Beck said, “The governor has always straight forward me with, and he was forthcoming in his press conference on Thursday. I believe him.”
Monmouth County Republican Chairman John Bennett said, “Governor Christie was open and sincere in his press conference. He said that he will now talk to everyone on his staff himself to get to the bottom of what happened. This issue may have gotten away from him because he departed from his usual practice of doing it all himself.
“Unfettered and overzealous politicos on Christie’s staff went way over the mark. The lane closures were a bad, bad idea that never should have happened.”
Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal hasn’t returned our calls since we debunked his malicious and inaccurate attempted character assassination of a Red Bank Republican Council Candidate last October, so we asked his predecessor, Victor Scudiery, and the man who opposed him in the chairman’s race in 2011, Frank LaRocca to comment.
Former Monmouth Democratic Chairman Victor Scudiery said, “I take Chris Christie’s word for it. We’ll have to play it out and see what happens. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, it’s frightening, but we have to wait and see.”
Marlboro Council President Frank LaRocca said, “Politically, Christie handled this the best way he could. Accept responsibility; blame the people with the information.
“People are saying that the Deputy Chief of Staff would not have done this without her bosses knowing.
“People love him (Christie), they want to love him, so they probably will (love him.)”
Assemblyman Sean Kean said, “Christie did a great job at his press conference. He was sincere, contrite and believable. Hopefully it will be the end of it soon.”
Kean noted that he served in the Senate with Bill Baroni, the former Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority who resigned soon after testifying that the George Washington Bridge lane closures were part of a traffic study, that he has worked with Bridget Ann Kelly, the Deputy Chief of Staff that Christie fired after her email ordering traffic problems in Fort Lee was release, and that he worked with Bill Stepien on the 2008 McCain for President campaign.
“I’m disappointed they did this,” Kean said of his former colleagues.
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, a Democrat, said, “My personal experience is that Governor Christie has done an outstanding job for Belmar. His staff has been great to work with. No one pressured me, approached me or asked me for any type of endorsement of Christie.”
Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider is a Democrat who endorsed Christie’s reelection. He doesn’t regret it. “I’ve come to consider the governor a friend,” Schneider said, “I’m not sorry I endorsed him, I’m glad I did it. No one asked me to endorse him, I suggested it.”
Schneider went to great lengths to praise Christie’s approach to government, not just related to the Superstorm Sandy recovery, but from the moment Christie took office.
“Shortly after Christie was inaugurated, I heard from a Christie staff member introducing himself as my contact with the Governor’s office, with his phone number and email address. I never got that from Corzine or any other governor. They (Christie’s staff) have been wonderful.”
Schneider also praised the Governor’s #Stronger than the Storm TV ads. “They were a tremendous help for our local businesses. Before those ads, most of the calls our businesses were receiving were inquiries about whether or not they were open or still in business. “
But Schneider did not hold back in his criticism of those involved in the George Washington Bridge lane closures. “This is the dumbest scandal of all time. I hope it stops with them (Bridget Ann Kelly, Bill Stepien, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni). What the hell were they thinking? If what they did is not a crime, it should be. Using their job and power to hurt people and then brag about it in email and text! Did they put it on facebook?”
“If you’re a 7 year old stuck on a school bus for 4 hours, it’s not funny.”
“We don’t know what the political outcome will be. It will be a challenge for Christie to recover, but I hope he pulls through this. We need a guy like him, funny, smart, compassionate and hardworking, at the top of government doing the work. This (Bridgegate) is a distraction.”
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon said, “The lane closures were unjust and reprehensible. Governor Christie did exactly what a leader is supposed to do, and he did it well, in his response.”
“For those still questioning, my message is: This man has earned the benefit of the doubt. Christie and the policies he’s advanced have saved New Jersey from insolvency.”
Freeholder Lillian Burry said, “I think Governor Christie was genuinely contrite. It’s really surprising, for him, because he’s a man in charge and shows great leadership, that this passed him by.”
“I give him the benefit of the doubt. Given his involvement in the campaign, it is possible this (the lane closures) passed him by.”
“We are fortunate that there was not a more serious result from this horrendous, reckless action.”