By JOHN T. WARD
Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long, assailed by a Democratic leader for crossing party lines to endorse Governor Chris Christie for re-election in 2013, has left the Democratic party, according to a report by the Asbury Park Press.
Long changed her party designation to “unaffiliated” on February 11, the Press reported. Long declined comment on the change, the newspaper said.
The change went unnoticed amid the firestorm over Bridgegate, in which Christie staffers and appointees are alleged to have plotted paybacks against Democratic New Jersey mayors for refusing to endorse his re-election.
Christie staffers and campaign officials were also reported to have kept a “target list” of Democractic mayors they wanted to corral endorsements from as their boss embarked on a run for a second term in 2013.
Long endorsed Christie in February of that year, calling him a “hero,” and shocking fellow Democratic officials.
At the time, Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal said Long “has a history of aligning herself with Republicans when it’s convenient,” and that her endorsement stood “in stark contrast to our Democratic principles, and those of the over 250 top Democratic elected officials and party leaders across Monmouth County who have endorsed Barbara Buono for Governor and will be working hard for her to elect her in November.”
In the wake of allegations that three lanes of traffic to the George Washington Bridge were closed in September to punish Fort Lee’s mayor for failing to endorse Christie, the mayors of Fort Lee, Jersey City and Hoboken said they, too, were pressed for endorsements by the Republican incumbent, and endured retaliation for not doing so.
Long, however, made no such accusations. She told redbankgreen earlier this year that she “was asked to state my support at a press conference, but I was not in any way threatened, bullied or given promises.”
On Tuesday, Gopal appeared gracious about Long’s departure from the party. From the Press:
Gopal said Tuesday that there were no lingering hard feelings.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for her. She’s been a great mayor and has done a great job for Sea Bright,” he said.