By JOHN T. WARD
In the midst of the Bridgegate scandal surrounding Governor Chris Christie over alleged paybacks to Democratic New Jersey mayors who refused to endorse his re-election last year, inquiring minds want to know:
What about Dina Long?
The mayor of Sea Bright endorsed Christie’s re-election early in the cycle last February, calling him a “hero,” and shocked fellow Democratic officials.
Given that the mayors of Fort Lee, Jersey City and Hoboken now say they were pressed for endorsements by the Republican incumbent, and endured some retaliation for not doing so, some natural questions come to mind:
Who first brought up the idea of Long endorsing Christie? Did she feel there was quid pro quo situation being foisted on her? Does she stand by her endorsement?
“That one is going to be no comment, no comment, no comment,” Long tells redbankgreen. “I really am trying to avoid getting drawn into the pile-on or the drama.”
Christie became a recurring presence in the borough last year, following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, which completely knocked out the business district and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes. Again and again, he came with promises of aid.
Other Democratic mayors who backed Christie are standing behind their endorsements, according to Buzzfeed.
One non-pol who stands by Christie is Cono Trezza, the owner of Sea Bright Pizza, who was visited by Christie several times.
During one of those visits, Christie told Trezza he’d do all he could to make sure Trezza got help from the state. Last week, Trezza learned he’d been approved for a $50,000 grant to apply toward his business, which reopened last July, eight months after the storm.
“I give credit to the governor,” Trezza told redbankgreen. “He said he was going to do it, and he got it done.”
On his August 28 visit, Christie sequestered himself at a front table with Long for a one-on-one meeting at Sea Bright Pizza while the reporters and photographers waited outside.[UPDATE, 3:30 p.m.: Mayor Long says redbankgreen “misinterpreted” her “no comment, no comment, no comment” response of earlier today and answered some questions after the publication of the above article.
“I offered my endorsement based on [Christie’s] response to Hurricane Sandy,” she said. “I stand by my endorsement. I was asked to state my support at a press conference, but I was not in any way threatened, bullied or given promises. Having gone through a natural disaster, I would hope any governor would respond as Governor Christie did.”]