2016 Feuds of the Year – Number 9: Steven Fulop vs. Chris Christie

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Perhaps you’ve heard that Gov. Chris Christie (R) doesn’t care for Democratic mayors that didn’t endorse he re-election bid?

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Gov. Chris Christie sit next to each other during the Goya grand opening on April 29, 2015.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Gov. Chris Christie sit next to each other during the Goya grand opening on April 29, 2015.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

When 2016 was still in its infancy, Fulop and fellow (almost) sure thing gubernatorial candidate, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), led the charge against privatizing Liberty State Park - an idea introduced by the Christie administration.

Simple enough, New Jerseyans, and certainly Jersey Cityans, really hate that kind of thing – not to mention Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin has a perfect record against governors trying to infringe on his territory.

During this presser, state Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37) joked there was a “66 2/3 percent chance” the next governor was in the room (which makes sense considering Phil Murphy wasn’t there).

Afterwards, Fulop essentially joked he had no idea what Weinberg was talking about, while Sweeney said be prepared for two guys named Steve to face off for the sacred Drumthwacket throne.

What does that have to do with Fulop vs. Christie?

Less than two months later, Fulop began pushing a website called stepdownchris.com (no longer active), obviously calling for Christie to resign.

Fulop said Christie wasn’t fit to serve this state if he was going to spend all his time on the Donald Trump campaign trail.

Detractors were also quick to point out that Fulop was rarely in Jersey City while he was schmoozing top Democratic around the state.

Christie just ignored him for a little while, until he swung the bat during an appearance on NJ 101.5, where he went after Fulop and Assembly Speaker Prieto for the stalemate in Atlantic City – calling it a proxy fight for governor between Fulop and Sweeney.

“He’s become Steve Fulop’s water boy, carrying his water in a Democratic primary fight against Steve Sweeney for the Democratic nomination for governor, and the people of Atlantic City are being used as pawns,” the governor said at the time.

City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill was apparently less than impressed, basically comparing Christie to a psycho ex-girlfriend.

“The Governor is a little confused once again, which is becoming more and more frequent unfortunately. Furthermore, the Governor’s strange obsession with Mayor Fulop seems to be clouding his judgment anytime he’s near a microphone,” she responded in an email.

Just a few days after that, taking us to April, Fulop was furious that Jersey City would be forced to participate in their first reval since 1988.

Can you guess who he said was behind this one?

Fulop tweet1

He clarified in a subsequent tweet that it was fine to force municipalities to do the reval, but it had to be all or nothing, as opposed to picking and choosing certain ones based on politics.

At a public meeting in January, Fulop made it clear that a reval would be “catastrophic” for residents, so it’s no surprise he wasn’t a happy camper.

Of course Christie’s office had zero sympathy here, saying these things don’t happen when elected officials do their jobs.

“The common thread among them is local officials’ failure to do their jobs and fulfill their constitutional requirements,” said then-Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts of the three municipalities ordered to do a reval, which also includes Elizabeth and Dunellen.

“In Jersey City’s case, at a cost of millions of dollars when they pulled the plug on a prior revaluation effort that was underway.”

Unfortunately, this feud pretty much fizzled out after the first quarter of 2016, which is why it wasn’t as much fun as last year, when Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was also in Christie’s crosshairs.

Since then, Fulop has decided not to run for governor and didn’t end up testifying in the Bridgegate trial when it was all said and done, all but eliminating any hope of this political firefight returning to the limelight in 2017.

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