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Hometown Support Runs High for Christie's Fired Deputy Chief of Staff

Bridget Kelly's friends rally around their Ramsey neighbor after her public dismissal from governor's office on Thursday.

Governor Chris Christie and former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Ann Kelly tour a fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J. on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Photo by Tim Larson/Office of the Governor.
Governor Chris Christie and former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Ann Kelly tour a fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J. on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Photo by Tim Larson/Office of the Governor.
Gov. Chris Christie may have fired a top aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, on Thursday, but she still has a phalanx of supporters in her hometown of Ramsey.

Friends of Christie's former deputy chief of staff who headed Ramsey's Republican Party rallied around her, calling Kelly "a wonderful person" who didn't deserve the treatment she received the past few days.

"Bridget is wonderful. She's a great mother, a wonderful friend," said one supporter who didn't want her name to be used. "She's being scapegoated."

A Facebook supporter, Patty Swanton Synder, was also in Kelly's corner. 

"Bridget is a woman of honor, decorum and integrity. I am appalled that she is being made a scapegoat of all this," she said. "I fully support her."

Kelly wrote emails to David Wildstein, a Port Authority director who resigned in December, encouraging lane closures approaching the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee. The resulting traffic clogs were apparently meant as a slap to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.

Kelly allegedly wrote Wildstein that it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," prior to three of four lanes from Fort Lee to the being shut down.

Christie apologized in a Thursday morning press conference and later met with the Fort Lee mayor, who accepted the governor's apology.

"I had no knowledge about this, the planning or execution of it," Christie said.

Kelly's Ramsey friends pulled together to protect their neighbor. 

"She's a great person. We know her well. We're not going to talk about her," one friend said. "She knows we support her. This is all personal, between us and Bridget."

Another Ramsey resident said she resented articles about Kelly, because the publicity could adversely affect her four children.

On Ramsey Patch's Facebook page, other friends commented that articles on the day's events were "inappropriate."

Trish Manduley Hurley said that while she doesn't know Kelly personally, she saw articles on Kelly's firing as "trash[ing] a local resident when it is impossible to know exactly who knew what was being done and who told who to do it."

Kelly, a 41-year-old mother of four, was the former head of Ramsey's GOP and had worked as an aide to NJ Assemblyman David Russo. 

From there, her efforts in Bergen County helped Christie win his gubernatorial election. She was rewarded with a position as the governor's director of legislative relations in 2010, and then promoted to director of intergovernmental and legislative affairs at a salary of $114,000, according to a report in the New York Times.
Barrie Peterson January 10, 2014 at 09:23 AM
Congratulations for friends and neighbors expressing their personal support for Ms Kelly and concern for her children. When one has a high level political or governmental job, however, actions in that sphere are ultimately accountable. Yes, she may be a scapegoat, but she apparently did trigger thuggish actions with thousands of Ft. Lee residents and commuters hurt. This is a Nixon type abuse of power. And, as Gov. Christie said "stupid". However, any government or business or religious leader is accountable, despite attempts at "plausible deniability". Christie set the tone and didn't have to necessarily ask her to do this; she could have taken the cues, sought to demonstrate loyalty; asserted her power alone. Like in Watergate, despite a huge election lead, paranoia and zealotry led to crimes to stack the voting results. Reagan was able to say he didn't know what Oliver North was doing in the basement to facilitate the Iran/Contra scandal, for example. Bank CEOs so far haven't been prosecuted for massive fraud their top people committed against Americans. Only recently has a Roman Catholic Bishop been prosecuted for systematic coverup of sexual predation. Let people continue to support Ms. Kelly but let the disclosures continue so the truth emerges on this sordid affair and let New Jersians then conclude what is the character and competence of the Governor who began his career as an admirable prosecutor of public corruption.
Mike Craine January 10, 2014 at 10:38 AM
I'm just curious... Do any of her supporters, or does Bridget Kelly herself, deny that she sent a message to a head of the Port Authority stating "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee"??? Is this basic, simple fact, in dispute? If not, and she DID send that message, then she may be a fine mother, a fine wife, a fine friend, etc.... But, she is in NO WAY qualified to be holding a public office and being in a position of trust... Why would ANY public official ever want to create traffic problems anywhere??? Public officials are meant to SERVE the public...

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