Let’s have a show of hands: how many of you actually felt retribution for not endorsing Gov. Christopher Christie?
Okay, now how many of you who supported Christie in the last election actually got a benefit from being the governor’s friend?
The problem for many people in the upcoming months will be to determine if the governor came after them for not supporting him or whether they simply were left out in the cold because they were foolish enough to support the wrong candidate.
Democratic politicians will leave no stone unturned trying to find evidence of Christie retribution, whether it is actually retribution or not.
Republican governors traditionally steer state resources most to those districts that voted for them, just as Democratic governors have, so suburban and rural areas of the state often do better under a Republican than under a Democratic governor.
But in light of the traffic jams those close to Christie allegedly caused in Fort Lee, every Democrat in every Democratic stronghold in the state will be digging up lack of benefits as political retribution.
Secaucus Councilman Robert Costantino jokingly posted on his Facebook page a picture of a traffic jam between Union City and Secaucus, calling it Christie’s political retribution – mocking the hyperbole of the media. The mayors of both Secaucus and Union City both endorsed Christie, by the way, and will likely benefit from it in the future over those who didn’t. This is politics.
Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason would have been a member of the state Assembly if she had agreed to endorse Christie, but she refused.
How much Christie knew about the Fort Lee event is debatable. For anyone who believes that Christie didn’t know what his closest aides were doing, I have a bridge to sell them – the George Washington Bridge, or even the one in Bayonne.
The question is: why did the Christie people pick on Fort Lee and not Bayonne?
In nearby Union City, Mayor Brian Stack endorsed Christie –and received perks from Christie before and after the election. Did Christie give Fort Lee similar perks that led him to expect the endorsement Fort Lee later denied him?
Some political observers say that behind the scenes, former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton is pulling media strings to shape Bridgegate into a national issue, doing for Christie what Watergate did for President Richard Nixon.
The last thing Clinton needs is a Republican that can cross party lines in a state that is critical for a Democrat to win the presidency.
But Bridgegate is not Watergate, and Christie isn’t Nixon
Unfortunately, Christie fed into the Democratic agenda with his two hour press conference during which he whined about how he didn’t know what his aides were doing. He should have, and probably did. By publically humiliating these one-time extreme Christie loyalists, the governor will only likely assure that if there is truth to come out, they will bring it out. They are most likely waiting for a book deal first, and a time closer to the presidential election when these truths will hurt Christie’s chances even more.
Political retribution everywhere?
Meanwhile closer to home, two of those who seek to fill Christie’s big shoes when he finally makes his exit in 2016 or 2017 have been at each others’ throat.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop took some pot shots at state Senate President Steve Sweeney, in yet another claim of political retribution.
Fulop said Sweeney refused to post a bill in the state Senate that would bring the city’s pension system in line with the state, thus saving the city taxpayers significantly.
Fulop claims Sweeney is peeved because Fulop suggested Sweeney and the state Democratic leadership were less than enthusiastic in confronting Christie on issues. This is not the first time that someone has accused Sweeney of being too comfortable with the Republican Governor.
Indeed, Fulop is accusing Sweeney of political retribution, but instead of snarling traffic on the streets of Fort Lee, Sweeney has allegedly caused a legislative traffic jam in Trenton.
But as the Christie debacle unfolded, however, Sweeney found himself in a bad position.
“This puts him right in the middle of the Christie mess,” said one source close to Fulop. “Sweeney is in the middle of the George Washington Bridge thing, even though he didn’t have anything to do with it. And we get our legislation passed.”
Sweeney eventually did post the bill, and distanced himself even further from Christie by stating that the state budget would not be balanced at the expense of the pension system, as Christie suggested in Tuesday’s State of the State speech.
All this is simply sparring between the leading Democratic frontrunners for the next gubernatorial election.
It will get worse – especially as the rhetoric heats up again.
Fulop, meanwhile, is also claiming he is the subject of Christie’s generosity when it comes to political retribution, saying that meetings with state commissioners that were scheduled after Fulop’s victory dried up when the Democratic mayor declined to endorse Christie’s reelection in the fall.
For a media desperate to follow a yellow brick road that might lead to the downfall of a governor, this is evidence of a pattern. For Fulop, this is one more front page headline in his own road to the Emerald City of Trenton.
A small but significant victory in WNY
West New York Mayor Felix Roque won another court victory this week. Although smaller than the victory last fall that exonerated him from charges that he allegedly conspired to break into a political enemy’s website, the current victory may have shut down the recall movement against him.
A Superior Court judge ruled that the petitions calling for a recall against Roque and his commissioners had failed to get the necessary signatures. This may be the final death blow to the effort, and comes at a very important time for Roque just prior to the first of two Board of Education elections.
The election results could wrest control of the board out of Roque’s hands, and without the distraction of a recall, Roque’s insiders might be able to concentrate on how to win the seats they need to retain that control.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.