Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer Will Kick Christie's Ass:
The Rude Pundit buys Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's story of the threat of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie withholding Sandy relief money because she wouldn't push through a development project he wanted. He buys it not just because he thinks Chris Christie is a walking example of a politician engorged to popping with power, like a particularly ambitious tick, but because he knows Dawn Zimmer.
Oh, yeah, the Rude Pundit lived in that fair, drunk, crowded hamlet for a couple of years. This was well before Zimmer became mayor. And, while he isn't a friend by any stretch of that word, he would call himself an acquaintance, and he has had numerous conversations with her at various gatherings. He has met her husband and her kids. The last chat of any depth occurred as she was beginning her first run for mayor against Peter Cammarano, the choice of the Hoboken Democratic machine. The Rude Pundit remembers telling Zimmer how brave she was to try to break the stranglehold that old Hoboken had on the town's government.
See, Hoboken is made up partly of old school families, the Irish and Italians who lived there for years. They resent the new Hobokenites, the young professionals who moved there for cheap rent, an easy commute, and loads and loads of bars. Those young professionals ended up mating and starting families, transforming the town (although it still is filthy with Wall Street scum). Zimmer's run for mayor was seen as a way to get the town to move beyond its usual crony politics and into a new era. And, really, in the campaign, one of her biggest issues was parks - getting more park space for the families of Hoboken, which is actually relevant to her reaction to the Rockefeller Group's development desires.
Hell, the Rude Pundit was legit friends with one of Zimmer's campaign advisers, and he helped hand out fliers for her campaign one day (don't read too much into that - it was just something he did to help move things along so he could hit a bar with the adviser).
You might know the rest of the story by now. Cammarano won, barely. He was almost immediately arrested during a housecleaning sting of corrupt Jersey politicians who were fake-bribed to push development projects forward. And Zimmer, then City Council President, became mayor, which was affirmed by a special election in November 2009, the same time that Chris Christie became governor.
So the Rude Pundit's observed her up close and personally. He hasn't said more than a few words to Zimmer at various times since she became mayor, but she was reelected last year, on the same date as Christie's reelection. Her constituents genuinely like her, especially after her passionate advocacy for Hoboken after Superstorm Sandy drowned the place, with water in the streets for days and whole sections of the city were dark for months.
Here's what the Rude Pundit believes about Dawn Zimmer: She is as compassionate and honest as they come in the sordid world of Jersey politics. She is really friggin' smart, scary smart, so she would not have told her story unless she thought through the consequences, especially of talking to the U.S. Attorney. And she is tough. You don't know what she took on to win mayor in Hoboken. We're talking an entrenched political culture that thought it could destroy her, and she went right at them and, eventually, won. The old machine is fading fast, dying off and moving on. Zimmer kicked its ass. Christie underestimated her and thought he could roll over her. Instead, she's put on her ass-kicking shoes again.
And here's what the Rude Pundit thinks happened in that Shop-Rite parking lot on May 13, 2013: Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno more than likely took Zimmer aside to talk to her about her requests for a big piece of Sandy aid. Guadagno probably thought she was having a friendly conversation about The Way Things Work. Zimmer had to move the Rockefeller Group project forward in order to get Christie's blessing on the Sandy cash. Guadagno probably thought she was doing Zimmer a favor, schooling someone who perhaps was unclear on how the back scratching worked. You get that sense when Zimmer says Guadagno told her, "I know it’s not right – these things should not be connected – but they are."
Yesterday, Guadagno spoke out like she had been betrayed by an old pal. Of course her intent wasn't to threaten. Having sniffed Christie's farts for all these years, she believes that this is what's normal. But Zimmer's reaction is that of an honest politician. (It's probably why everyone around Christie is so shocked that people care about the George Washington Bridge scandal.)
By the way, one thing that needs to be added here is that Zimmer has insisted she didn't oppose the Rockefeller Group development. She just wanted to follow the laws and rules of Hoboken and the state. It seems the same cannot be said of Christie and Guadagno.
Tomorrow: "But...but...why didn't she come forward before?" The rude answer to that.