Governor Chris Christie poses with Boondocks Fishery owner Kelly Ryan wearing lobster-claw headgear given out at the Red Bank restaurant. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)


Governor Chris Christie returned to Sea Bright Thursday to pick up an early re-election endorsement from Mayor Dina Long, who crossed party lines and called him a “hero to Sea Bright and all across the Jersey shore.”

Long  – a Democrat who once volunteered worked as a paid campaign staffer for governors Jim Florio and Jim McGreevey, presidential candidate Bill Bradley and then-Senator Jon Corzine – said her backing of the Republican incumbent had “nothing to do with” the qualifications, or gender, of presumptive Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Senator Barbara Buono.

“It’s about humanity,” she said.

Christie eagerly accepted the endorsement, calling it, “a powerful symbol of people crossing party lines and working together to get things fixed.”

Christie praised Long’s endorsement as an example of bipartisanship. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

Holding Long’s move up as an example of elected officials “putting aside partisan differences and working together for the people who gave us these jobs in the first place,” Christie said he hopes others will see in Long’s move that “they can cross party lines if they feel in their heart that it’s the right thing to do.”

At  a packed press conference held at Woody’s Ocean Grille Thursday morning, Long said she didn’t want to “spend the next six months being coy” about who she’d endorse, and wanted to make it known that she would be supporting Christie.

Christie has made repeated trips to the Hurricane Sandy-battered beach town, most recently on February 8, when he came with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan in tow to talk about federal recovery aid.

Asked whether she’d be crossing party lines if not for Christie’s response to the storm, Long said, “Sandy redefined everything we know. So that’s not possible to answer. I’m living with the reality we have’s been dealt.”

Christie, responding to a question about whether Sea Bright would now get preferential treatment from the state, said he’d worked on the town’s, and the entire shore’s, behalf before he met Long, and would continue to do so

Besides, he added, referring to his prior role as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, “that sounds like something I would have prosecuted somebody for in my last job.”

Responding to criticism of her expected endorsement by Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal, who said in a statement that Long “has a history of aligning herself with Republicans when it’s convenient,” Long said, “Sorry, I’m still a Democrat.”

Christie, though, teed up Gopal, saying he “represents the politics of yesterday. All he cares about are partisan labels, and not the real interests of New Jersey.”

Asked if he expects the endorsement of another well-known Monmouth County backer of Democrats, Bruce Springsteen, Christie replied: “I live in hope.”