Chris Christie may have met his match. The New Jersey governor went off on a persistent heckler Wednesday at an event commemorating the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy in Belmar, New Jersey. His frustration mounting, Christie yelled at the man to “sit down and shut up,” a line that received applause from many in the crowd. Moments later, Christie's security detail succeeded in confiscating the man’s television-camera-obscuring protest sign that read “Get Sandy Families Back in Their Home / Finish the Job."

Sparring with vocal critics has become a regular part of Christie's job, but this time, the heckler, Jim Keady, isn't going away quietly.

"He’s a bully," Keady said of Christie in a phone interview hours after the confrontation. "He tries to use his bullying routine to squash dissent.” It was a message that the suddenly-in-demand Keady was preparing to spread in separate interviews scheduled with network and cable news shows. “I’m a 6-foot-4, 215-pound former pro-athlete. I’m not going to be bullied by him. And when he goes into his bullying routine, it lays bare the fact that he does not want to talk about the political realities that are being presented to him."

BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: A man is removed by security guards while he shots slogans to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during a public event in Belmar, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: A man is removed by security guards while he shots slogans to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during a public event in Belmar, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Photograph by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

The 43-year-old Keady is a small businessman who runs his family’s tavern, where many of the customers are in less frequently because, Keady says, they're out of pocket from the storm damage and waiting to get back in their homes. A former Asbury Park councilman, Keady knows something about how politics works. In the 1990s, he also played pro soccer for the North Jersey Imperials as backup goalie to Tim Howard. Yes, that Tim Howard. Need more evidence that Keady isn't a shrinking violet? He's a founding director of a group called Educating for Justice, which protests working conditions at Nike factories. He was kicked out of Indonesia earlier this year for joining workers at a protest of union-busting activities at Nike’s Jakarta headquarters. He said he’s never met or heckled Christie before.

During their back and forth, Christie told Keady that “somebody like you doesn’t know a damn thing about what you’re talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here. I’ve been here when the cameras aren’t here buddy, and done the work." Christie went on to tell Keady that “I’m glad you had your day to show off” and now, “turn around, get your 15 minutes of fame, and then maybe take your jacket off, roll up your sleeves and do something for the people of this state.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA:  Former American soccer pro Jim Keady sits in front of a sign playing on footwear giant Nike's 'Just Do It' slogan after Keady spent a month living in Indonesia trying to live on the wage of a Nike's workers wage of USD 1.14 per day in Sydney 04 September 2000.  The move is designed to embarrass Nike, who is a major sponsor of the upcoming Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, into providing better working conditions and pay for workers producing Nike goods.  (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Former American soccer pro Jim Keady sits in front of a sign playing on footwear giant Nike's 'Just Do It' slogan after Keady spent a month living in Indonesia trying to live on the wage of a Nike's workers wage of USD 1.14 per day in Sydney 04 September 2000. The move is designed to embarrass Nike, who is a major sponsor of the upcoming Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, into providing better working conditions and pay for workers producing Nike goods. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by William West/AFP

But Keady is no stranger to what New Jersey has been through. He grew up in Belmar, now lives in neighboring Spring Lake, and after the storm, he said, he took a month off of work and volunteered “every day” in Belmar. “They trusted me with one of their borrowed dump trucks and I was running clean up crews all over town," Keady said. "I wanna know how many crawl spaces the governor was in, cleaning up. But he got his photo-op in Belmar.”

Keady talked about how only 20 percent of a $1.1 billion a program to get people back in their homes has actually gone out. “His administration is sitting on $800 million of taxpayer money that was supposed to go to our fellow New Jerseyans,” Keady said. 

“If I’d just stood up, sat down, and been polite, you and I wouldn’t be talking right now,” Keady added. “It’s necessary at times to do small and large acts of civil disobedience so people’s voices can be heard. And if Governor Christie doesn’t like that, he’s in the wrong business.”

Keady says he's an independent voter, not beholden to Democrats or Republicans. Asked if there’s any chance he’d vote for Christie if he runs for president in 2016, he thought a minute and concluded, “No.”

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