By Barbara Goldberg
MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (Reuters) - The New Jersey man Governor Christie told to "sit down and shut up" when he complained about the state's Superstorm Sandy response is now running for state Assembly as the "voice" of local families.
James Keady said he is confident he has more than 100 signatures on nominating petitions due on Monday to get on the ballot for the Democratic primary in June to represent Ocean County's 30th Legislative District.
Keady rejected the advice he got from the governor at a press conference on the Jersey Shore in October when he hoisted a sign admonishing Christie, a potential 2016 Republican contender for the White House, to "Stay in NJ & finish the job" on the two-year anniversary of the devastating storm that killed at least 159 people and destroyed more than 650,000 homes.
"It gave me the impetus to get back into electoral politics to try to be a voice for those families," Keady said of the gubernatorial tongue-lashing.
The 43-year-old single father from Spring Lake, who runs his family's tavern restaurant in Waretown, is making his first run for the statehouse after serving on the Asbury Park City Council from 2005 to 2008.
"If the governor wants elected officials who are going to sit down and shut up, he should be looking within his own party," Keady said.
Keady was not the first person the combative Republican governor and potential presidential contender has publicly told to pipe down.
In February 2013, when former White House physician Dr. Connie Mariano commented on the governor's substantial weight, Christie responded, "She should just shut up. She must be a genius and should be Surgeon General."
Two years later, Christie defended his combative style in light of a potential bid for the presidency, telling the Conservative Political Action Conference, "Sometimes people need to be told to sit down and shut up."
As a Democrat running for state Assembly in a heavily Republican district, Keady said he is counting on voters motivated by common sense rather than blind party loyalty. Among his chief concerns: Sandy recovery, fiscal accountability, policy transparency, education and the state pension.
"I just hope that people will look at my reputation and my service in public office in the past and will make a judgment based on those things, not on what letter is next to my name on the ballot," Keady said.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Marguerita Choy)