Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop have become unlikely allies. The two Democrats were both allegedly scorned by Governor Chris Christie’s administration after they failed to endorse the Republican governor for reelection in 2013. They met during the Bridgegate scandal. Now, Fulop is rumored to have set his sights on the gubernatorial position in 2017, and Sokolich seems keen to help with his aspirations whether they be for mayor or, eventually, governor.
On Wednesday night, Sokolich held a fundraiser at his Fort Lee home in Fulop’s honor to go towards his 2017 mayoral run. Bergen support for the mayor of Hudson County’s largest municipality was strong. County executive Jim Tedesco, Englewood Cliffs Mayor Joe Parisi, Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato, New Jersey Democratic State Committee chairman John Currie and former Edgewater mayor Bryan Christiansen, among others, were all in attendance.
According to Sokolich, he and Fulop are close and holding the fundraiser at his home was part of the Fort Lee mayor’s effort to “introduce him to friends in East Bergen.”
“I have gotten to know Steve pretty well,” Sokolich told PolitickerNJ. “We are in that same club together as mayors and I completely respect that. I think the people of Bergen can appreciate what he has done.”
When asked if he would eventually support Fulop if he did decide to run for governor, Sokolich said he would but insisted that Wednesday’s event had no ties to a potential gubernatorial run.
“My only motivation is to introduce him to friends,” Sokolich said.
Fulop said the support in Bergen of Sokolich and others was “humbling.”
“I think Bergen and Hudson are very closely tied,” Fulop told PolitickerNJ. “I am thankful for the relationships I have built here in Bergen. The county is crucial to the entire state and I am grateful for the group that came out to show their support.”
“You can’t tell what the future holds, but at the end of the day it is about relationships,” Fulop continued.
When Cliffside Park’s Municipal Chairman Gerry Calabrese Jr. made remarks to the crowd, it was evident how strong Fulop’s relationships are.
“We recognize him as someone who could be very special to the state of New Jersey,” Calabrese said. “Maybe we can push him to a new endeavor, but that is up to him.”
The fundraiser raised about $50,000, according to sources.