Murphy ‘loyalty’ to Seaside Heights, NJ earns endorsement from Republican mayor
Tony Vaz, the Republican mayor of Seaside Heights, said Gov. Phil Murphy was surprised by his cross-party endorsement of his re-election. And so was Vaz himself.
It was the personal touch that won Vaz over to the Democrat's side despite their different political party affiliations.
"In my wildest dreams I never thought I would support this present governor. But I have to tell you, three-and-a-half years into office, he has been very conscientious of our unique situations in Seaside Heights," Vaz told New Jersey 101.5. "I can think of numerous occasions where he has called me personally or texted me or emailed me and asked if we need assistance."
"I'm the mayor of Seaside Heights and my concern has to be for the taxpayer, for the resident, the business people, the property owner, the tourist. Murphy's helped us in those areas and that's why I'm supporting him," he said.
Vaz said he broke the news to the governor on Friday when he was in town to sign a clean energy bill on Friday.
Vaz said the two have had warm conversations and a friendship that's developed over the past thee years.
"We have that give and take. He knows me, I know him. He knows some of the things he did I don't agree with. But no matter what I said to him, be it during the pandemic or otherwise, he or his staff came back with data. And that was really impressive to me," Vaz said.
"I respect his leadership. I think he's a very sincere individual and a person of high integrity."
Vaz said he has not met Republican gubernatorial Jack Ciattarelli and has nothing against him.
Vaz has held the office since 2015 when he was appointed to replace William Akers upon his resignation in 2015. Before that, Vaz was a councilman and a supporter of Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno. One of Christie's priorities after Superstorm Sandy was to get the shore town cleaned up for tourism by the next summer.
Ciattarelli was endorsed by former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, who attended a fundraiser for him on Sunday.
"It's time for New Jersey to have a leader who values all of its citizens and knows how to move the state forward," Haley said in a message on her Twitter account.