Jim Keady is running for a seat in the NJ Assembly, and will have the backing of Monmouth Democrats, in a district that also includes Ocean County towns. It’s an uphill race, Democrats are in the minority in the 30th District where Republicans Sean Kean and Dave Rible are incumbents. But Monmouth Dems, under Chair Vin Gopal, are growing and Keady – who grew up in LD30’s Belmar, once sat on neighboring Asbury Park’s council, and returned to Belmar both to volunteer and to tangle with Gov. Christie – is not an unknown quantity in the shore towns.
If you want to track Chris Christie’s sinking poll numbers, and the serious bobble of his once-meteoric rise to the top of the GOP 2016 pack, one marker to look at is this moment last October – the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Sandy – when he told a heckler to “sit down and shut up.” That was Keady. It made national news, putting Christie in a negative light and spurring articles reexamining his actual Sandy recovery record, just as the chatter for the 2016 White House ramped up.
Keady stood up while the others, gathered outdoors in Belmar, politely sat. Belmar’s Democratic mayor Matt Doherty stood between Chris and Mary Pat with a frozen smile on his face. While the Governor rambled on expressing care for people who lost homes and businesses in the storm, Keady rose with a sign reading: Stay in NJ & Finish the job.
Chris Christie will engage constituents who dare to challenge him and he’s a master at humiliating people and getting onlookers on his side.
This time, it was different. A belligerent Christie tried to take credit for his own Sandy street cred, which has been dinged by recent stories of delays getting help to residents, even as the Christie administration spent millions promoting himself and family with public money in “Stronger than the Storm” ads. And he accused his heckler of preening for the cameras, suggesting he “take your jacket off, roll up your sleeves, and do something for the people of this state.”
It was a rare mistake for a governor used to engineered public events, and full control of message. Because as Keady said, he’d already done just that – taken a month off from work and run clean-up crews in that very town of Belmar. Keady had the credibility of putting in time actually doing physical labor, which Christie, whose efforts to build a national reputation as New Jersey’s caring, fleece-wearing Sandy savior, cannot himself claim.
Keady is a former pro athlete and college soccer coach, and founder of Educating for Justice. He’s been a thorn in the side of sports giant Nike for years exposing their history of using sweatshops in which workers are treated poorly to make their expensive but popular products.