Aides close to Chris Christie shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge last summer, the popular theory goes, as a means of revenge against a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse the governor for re-election. But other Democratic mayors may have received similar political payback.
Jersey City, N.J. Mayor Steve Fulop told the Wall Street Journal in a story published late Sunday that he’s been frozen out since he opted against endorsing Christie last year. The Journal reported that Christie officials offered Fulop “new access to state commissioners, who hold the purse strings for many Jersey City services” in exchange for his support.
Mr. Fulop decided against endorsing the governor. Within an hour of relaying his decision, the mayor said, meetings with several state commissioners were canceled.
Since then, he said, “nearly every single meeting we have requested with state commissioners with regard to proactive Jersey City issues has been unfortunately rejected over the last six months, along with countless requests we made to the Port Authority” of New York and New Jersey, a bistate agency Mr. Christie jointly controls with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Fulop’s name appears in emails showing Fort Lee, N.J. Mayor Mark Sokolich appealing for assistance to address the gridlock on the bridge.
“Radio silence,” an official wrote in reference to Sokolich. “His name comes right after mayor Fulop.”
Many have speculated that Sokolich’s decision to not endorse Christie was the motivation behind the lane closures on the bridge.
During his nearly two-hour presser last week, Christie was dismissive of Fulop’s claims, saying that the mayor “seems to be having a lot of disagreements with lots of people.”
Other Democratic mayors who declined to support Christie told the Journal that they faced no retribution for their decisions. But Sokolich and Fulop may have company in Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who told the Journal that she was invited to the state capital in Trenton last year to discuss federal relief dollars for Superstorm Sandy, but the talk eventually turned to gubernatorial endorsements.
Although she said it “was not that easy to tell him no,” Zimmer ultimately decided to stay neutral in the race.
She told WNYC that after making her decision, she received considerably less money. She originally requested $100 million in grants to help protect Hoboken from flooding — the city was largely underwater after Sandy — but only received $300,000 in return.
“With 20/20 hindsight, in the context we’re in right now, we can always look back and say, ‘Okay, was it retribution?’” Zimmer said. “I think probably all mayors are reflecting right now and thinking about it, but I really hope that that’s not the case.”