Kelly v. Hogan: Bergen Clerk’s Debate Dredges up Bridgegate

Kelly outside the Supreme Court.

Political observers recall Bridget Kelly talking to reporters in the rain outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020 after justices heard the appeal of her Bridgegate conviction.

She famously won that case – unanimously in fact.

Now Kelly is trying her luck not with nine justices, but with thousands of Bergen County voters.

Kelly is running on the Republican ticket for county clerk against incumbent Democrat John Hogan.

A race for county clerk usually isn’t something that stirs the political juices.

This one seems different. Kelly is not only known politically, many see her as the scapegoat for the craziness of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge in 2013.

How far that goes is the question. Bergen, once a GOP bastion, has become tough territory for Republicans. Democrats, who now control all county offices, outnumber Republicans registration wise by about 115,000.

Kelly has called her legal ordeal a seven-year nightmare, but even nightmares apparently can have silver linings.

Her campaign Facebook page praises defense lawyer Michael Critchley and co-defendant Bill Baroni for attending one of her fundraisers.

Hogan remembers Bridgegate too.

His Facebook page includes remembrances from county residents caught up in the maze of traffic jams eight years ago. “Faces of Bridgegate” is what this is called.

Hogan also includes comments from Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan about the whole thing being deceptive, corrupt and an “abuse of power.”

Point made. Not surprisingly, Hogan omits the fact that Kagan joined her eight colleagues on the bench in ruling that Kelly committed no crime.

A debate between the candidates this week stayed more or less on the job itself, but still generated some sparks.

Hogan said he’s broadened the scope of the office to serve more residents and that he’s saved money on the cost of printing ballots.

Kelly counters that for the second year in a row, some mail-in ballots were printed incorrectly.

Hogan brushed some of this off, saying these mistakes were quickly corrected and that they disenfranchised nobody. He called Kelly a “one-issue” candidate who knows “very little” about the office.

Kelly shot back that Hogan is using the clerk’s office to build a future political career.

Still, this is not a race that’s going to be decided on the basis of who can make fewer mistakes printing ballots.

Kelly’s background clearly is the issue.

Voters, depending on their point of view, can see her as a cynical political operative, or as an innocent public servant railroaded by those surrounding her. Those in the latter category may feel she deserves another chance at a public job.

Kelly’s past adventure came up during the debate’s closing statements. Hogan mentioned that many Bergen County residents were harmed by Kelly’s actions back in September of 2013.

“I (thought) we were going to stay away from personal attacks,” Kelly said.

Hogan responded,  “You did the same thing, Bridget. You do it every time.”

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One response to “Kelly v. Hogan: Bergen Clerk’s Debate Dredges up Bridgegate”

  1. Regardless of what SCOTUS did, Kelly has still destroyed her reputation by her actions. She is unqualified to hold any office.

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