Fred Tagliarini, the mayor of Aberdeen Township, was one of just two local politicians who got the top ranking from the governor's staff, though he had no idea until a Bloomberg News reporter called to ask for comment.
"I'm flattered by them thinking so highly of me," said Tagliarini, a Democrat.
The mayor's name turned up on a spreadsheet maintained by the Christie administration that ranked the state's mayors and council members, mostly Democrats, on the likelihood they would endorse the Republican governor's 2013 re-election. But it wasn't just rankings. It also tracked who sat in the governor's box for New York Giants' and New York Jets' games, toured the World Trade Center, attended Christie's speeches or received gifts, like steel remnants from wreckage of the Twin Towers.
Along with the two "10s," the list of 54 politicians includes three lowly "1s" with the rest scattered in between.
The effort to woo Democrats was part of a broader push to cast Christie, now a top adviser to Trump's presidential campaign, as a bipartisan leader and leading contender for the Republican presidential nominee. It offers a window into the way ambitious politicians use the perks of their office to schmooze local officials.
The spreadsheet was introduced as evidence in the trial of Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, former Christie allies who are accused of ordering traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, for not backing Christie's re-election. The scandal ultimately helped to doom Christie's presidential ambitions.
Based on the spreadsheet, at least, the governor's office shouldn't have been surprised by Sokolich's decision. He was rated a "4." He didn't return a phone message seeking comment.
A spokesman for Christie declined to comment.
The trial started Sept. 19, and Kelly is expected to begin testifying on Friday. Christie has denied knowing about the traffic plot. The governor's staff began tracking Democratic mayors who might endorse Christie in 2011, according to trial testimony.
Among those on the list is Richard Gerbounka, then mayor of Linden. He said he toured the World Trade Center and was later offered a piece of twisted steel that's now part of a Sept. 11 memorial at Linden City Hall. Gerbounka, an independent who was ranked a "9," said he wasn't aware of the spreadsheet and supported Christie's re-election because the governor was "shaking up the status quo."
Most of those on the spreadsheet who were contacted by Bloomberg News said they were unaware of its existence or their ranking. Burlington Township Mayor Brian Carlin, D, said he was approached by the administration shortly after he was elected in 2010 and invited to a meet-and-greet with the governor.
"As a matter of policy, I do not accept gifts from anybody," said Carlin, who was rated a "5" with an added notation that he declined an offer to attend a Giants game. "I won't even let somebody buy me a cup of coffee."
Former Hillside Mayor Joseph Menza, an independent who was ranked a "6," said the Christie administration invited him to many events, including Christmas parties and meetings with other mayors. He endorsed Christie in 2013.
"You're in a situation where you have to respect the position," Menza said. "Basically it pays to get along. There's discretionary funding. You always want to be courteous and respectful. When push comes to shove, you need funding."
Tagliarini, 64, said there was "zero chance" he would have supported the governor, despite accepting invitations to a New York Jets game and a Christmas party.
"I graciously declined, and there was no pressure whatsoever. No threat. Nothing," he said. "I wrote him a very nice letter wishing him good luck in the election. That's as far as it went."
The other "10" on the list, Garfield Mayor Tana Raymond, D, said she endorsed Christie during his first campaign because she liked his efforts to fight corruption as a federal prosecutor. While the spreadsheet notes that Raymond had committed to endorsing the governor in 2013, she said she stayed on the sidelines that year.
"That was probably the only place I ranked a '10,' " she said. "I certainly didn't rank that with the Democrats, and I'm still a Democrat."
The governor's efforts to woo Teaneck Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin, D, fell flat. Rated a "4," Hameeduddin said he accepted a tour of the World Trade Center site and a seat at a Giants game but never engaged in any serious discussions about a Christie endorsement.
"Everybody thought they were trying to build relationships with local government," he said. "Nobody knew there was a political arm to this."
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, D, a "2," said he endorsed Christie's opponent, then-state Sen. Barbara Buono, and contributed to her campaign. He said he wasn't contacted by the governor's office or his campaign seeking an endorsement.
"I certainly wasn't offered any tickets to Giants games," Doherty said. "How do you get on that list?"