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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 "Bridgegate" author Bridget Kelly Thursday in hopes of salvaging a Presidential bid, but she still has a phalanx of supporters back in her hometown of Ramsey.

Friends of the former deputy chief of staff who also headed Ramsey's Republican Party rallied around the 41-year-old mother of four, 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 is accused of writing 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 seen as a drubbing of Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who didn't support Christie's re-election bid last year.

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

Christie apologized in a Thursday morning press conference and said he knew nothing about the Kelly emails. Christie 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, adding that Kelly's employment had been terminated.

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 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.

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