January 19, 2014

There's a thin line between rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies. How many of Gov. Chris Christie's supporters felt they even had a choice in the matter? The Washington Post takes a closer look:

In September, Adam Schneider, the liberal mayor of the New Jersey shore town of Long Branch, was having trouble with the state utility board. After repeatedly getting the run-around, Schneider decided to instead try his luck with the office of Gov. Chris Christie.

“I’m not talking to any more underlings, and I’m not being delegated to,” Schneider said he told Christie’s aides. In the end, he said, it worked. “I got what I needed.”

Schneider’s call came four months after he crossed party lines to endorse the 2013 reelection of Christie (R), whose performance he admired after Hurricane Sandy. Schneider said that the governor never promised him anything but that he believes he has received “enhanced” access to state officials since the endorsement.

Schneider’s experience is typical of many Democratic mayors, who made clear that they thought endorsing Christie’s reelection bid likely directly benefited their towns in the pursuit of Sandy recovery aid and other state support.

Now Christie, a top GOP 2016 presidential hopeful who has been engulfed by the George Washington Bridge political-retribution scandal, has been put on the defensive about his governing style.

On Saturday, the Democratic mayor of Hoboken alleged that two top Christie officials threatened to withhold Sandy aid from the hard-hit city unless she supported a development project backed by the governor.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer said she was told once in person by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and once in person by Richard Constable, Christie’s community affairs commissioner, that she needed to support the project in order for storm funds requested by her city to be approved. Zimmer, whose allegations were first reported by MSNBC, said she had also rejected Christie’s request for her endorsement.

The governor’s office called the accusations regarding Sandy aid and the development project “outlandishly false.”

Nevertheless, what has emerged among Democrats in New Jersey is a feeling that those who played ball with the governor enjoy favored status, while others have been shut out or had access curtailed. That is not an entirely unusual dynamic in politics, but it is one that conflicts with Christie’s carefully groomed image as a leader driven only by what is right, not petty politics.

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