Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer took shots at Gov. Chris Christie (R) at a meet and greet in last night, where political factions across the Mile Square City came together in a rare show of unity.
Hosted at the Ainsworth bar & grill on Sinatra Drive, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner kicked off the program by reminding everyone to vote Democratic on November 8, before [Hoboken Mayor Dawn] Zimmer vouched for Murphy and took some shots at Christie.
“I can assure you he is a man of integrity, he is honest, he is a man of his word,” Zimmer said of Murphy. “And when we think about, just reflect for a minute, when we think about what’s going on in Bridgegate … And we hear that the approach under the Christie administration was all about the on constituent approach.”
“We have one constituent: that one constituent of all of these public officials making a six-figure salary was Chris Christie, the governor. It was all about his ambition and where he was going – it was not about moving our state forward.”
Former Port Authority official David Wildstein, the government’s key witness in the trial of former Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly and Port Authority official Bill Baroni, testified last month that the bi-state agency operated under the “one constituent rule:” that decisions were made solely for the benefit of the governor.
After exclaiming that Zimmer is doing “an extraordinary job” leading Hoboken, Murphy went after Christie as well, whose approval ratings are at an all-time low, for his failed presidential run and then becoming a top advisor to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“He is putting his own ambitions [first] and hurting, not just not helping, but hurting the lives of so many in this state,” Murphy said of Christie. “For one, I want you to think of me for someone who stands for the right things, getting us back to the soul of this state. This governor has hijacked what we stand for as a state to fuel his own ambitions.”
“I want to get us back to funding women’s health, getting ahead of lead paint remediation, acknowledging the fact that we are up against dramatic climate change and there are things we can do to get ahead of it again.”
Murphy also said that he aims to sign “sensible” gun legislation laws and to grow the state economy and make it fair (calling it “flat as a pancake and profoundly unfair” under Christie).
He says by focusing on the innovation and infrastructure economies, which includes flood prevention plans such as Hoboken’s $230 million Rebuild by Design project.
Murphy is currently running unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial primary in June, though he has faced some criticism from Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, a declared Republican gubernatorial candidate, over the connection between New Start New Jersey (Murphy’s non-profit) and his intentions to run for governor.
A Christie spokesman did not return an email seeking comment.
After the crowd was practically mesmerized by Murphy, it was stunning to see some of the politicos come together in a city where grudges are usually measured in lifetimes.
Patricia Waiters, a perennial candidate for office often critical of the Zimmer administration, could be seen chatting it up with the mayor after Murphy left the building.
Former Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, embroiled in litigation over his termination from the housing authority, was seen chumming around with his successor, Annette Chaparro, a close ally of Zimmer and the fiance of Police Chief Ken Ferrante.
He and Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla even greeted each other with a hearty handshake.
Former Hoboken Public Safety Director Angel Alicea, who settled a discrimination lawsuit with the city for $700,000 in February 2015, was even spotted chatting it up with Perry Belfiore – a longtime Zimmer antagonist.
Others in attendance included Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5), Hoboken Council members Mike DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher, and James Doyle, Hoboken Housing Authority Chair Dana Wefer, Hoboken NAACP member Cory Johnson, Elysian Charter School Board President Eduardo Gonzalez, among many others.