Gov. Chris Christie (R) slammed Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a potential successor to Christie in Trenton, calling him “the boss of everybody” in Hudson County besides state Senators Brian Stack (D-33) and Sandra Cunningham (D-31) – though the mayor’s camp has dismissed the remarks as part of a “strange obsession” with Fulop.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Although 2017 will be Christie’s last year in the governor’s chair, that hasn’t stopped him from trading heavy leather with Fulop in recent weeks, a Democratic rival who he is now accusing of running the show in the Assembly through Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32).
During his monthly appearance on NJ 101.5 last night, Christie went after Prieto and Fulop, claiming Fulop’s statewide aspirations are holding Atlantic City hostage right now.
“It’s a shame that the Assembly speaker’s position has been reduced to being the mayor of Jersey City’s water boy, and that’s what the speaker’s become,” Christie said.
“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.”
Prieto, who has been picking up Democratic support for his plan to save Atlantic City as he publicly slugs it out with Christie, responded moments after the show concluded – following the governor’s lead in taking the gloves off for this one.
“The governor did what he always does – engage in petty insults, concoct bizarre conspiracy theories and blame others for his failings. Notice what he’s not doing – actual governing. Gov. Christie could be using his existing authority to save Atlantic City or negotiate a compromise, but that would require him to do something he seldom does – his job,” Prieto said in a spirited statement.
” … Gov. Christie is absurdly delusional. He also seems to have a very unhealthy obsession with Mayor Fulop, who has played no role. Based on his record in New Jersey, Gov. Christie is the one who knows how to sink a ship. His refusal to use his existing power to save Atlantic City is more of the same.”
Christie was just warming up at that point though, also claiming Fulop, who has launched a website asking for the governor to step down, has a stanglehold on almost every political front in Hudson County.
“This is what happens when a politician backs himself into a corner doesn’t now know what to do,” Christie also said on the radio show.
“His [Prieto's] boss used to be Nick Sacco. Now Nick Sacco isn’t his boss any more, now his boss is Steve Fulop, because he’s the boss of everybody I think but Brian Stack and Sandy Cunningham in Hudson County now (transcription per Politicker NJ).”
Oddly enough, Stack, a longtime Christie ally, was at Zeppelin Hall in Jersey City at almost the exact same time Christie made his remarks, praising the job Fulop has done and welcoming the same leadership on a statewide level.
Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill was dismissive of the remarks, echoing Prieto’s thoughts that Christie has a “strange obsession” with Fulop.
“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 said in an email.
“Nevertheless, the reality is that Mayor Fulop hasn’t been involved in the Atlantic City takeover bill, nor has he even read the governor’s proposal. This is vintage Christie just trying to create a distraction from his failures.”
Dealing with a monumental $437 million debt, Atlantic City is expected to engage in a three-week shutdown beginning April 8th if the legislature can’t reach a compromise.