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A LOOK BACK (2014): During a stop in Belmar on the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, NJ Gov Chris Christie tells heckler Jim Keady: 'Sit down and shut up.' Asbury Park Press

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Democratic primary candidate James Keady, the heckler former Gov. Chris Christie once told to "sit down and shut up," is dropping out of the race for New Jersey's 4th Congressional District.

He is going out with a bang.

(See Keady speak at an anti-gun rally in Toms River in 2017 in the video at the top of this story.)

The move, announced in a statement posted Friday on his Facebook page, follows an attention-getting email Keady distributed Dec. 11 that became the focus of a raucous town hall-style meeting in Wall on Monday.

One woman attendee of the Democratic candidates' forum shouted at Keady, in apparent reference to Keady's Dec. 11 missive: "Fraud! Writing an email to 10 women to say you f***** someone, fraud! Fraud!"

In his Friday statement, Keady apologized "to my supporters, my friends, and the people who I have hurt in recent days." He also addressed the Dec. 11 email, which includes specific apologies to a long list of women.

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Keady said the "tone and tenor of the email I sent to you on December 11, 2019 was wrong, and the sharing of our private communications was a terrible error in judgment."

His statement continued: "I made a horrible mistake and by sending the aforementioned email in response to rumors about my personal life that I learned were being circulated. Responding the way that I did was foolish and unworthy of the community I have sought to serve. I allowed my anger, my pain, and my ego to get the best of me. I am deeply sorry and ashamed of my actions."

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Keady, who became internet famous for being told to "sit down and shut up" by Christie during a news conference in 2014, was one of four Democratic contenders looking to unseat Republican Chris Smith, who has held the position since 1981.

He is the second Democrat to drop out of the race. Tiffany Kaszuba ended her campaign in December after she said a former Monmouth County political official called and texted her excessively, contacting others about her location and tried to control with whom she spoke.

Pressure over Keady, a former Asbury Park councilman, mounted on Monday when the Wall Township Democrats hosted a "Meet the Candidates Debate" at the Beach Haus Brewery in Belmar.

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Congressional hopeful Jim Keady speaks at a rally in Toms River.

A video of the event circulating in Facebook shows a group of attendants yelling at Keady when he was about to answer the question: "What would you do to protect women in your campaign?"

That's when the woman yelled "fraud!" and chastised Keady for the tawdry contents of the Dec. 11 email. 

Some attendants got up and turned their backs on Keady as he tried to speak. Protesters yelled "drop out! drop out!", among other things, as Keady tried to explain the Dec. 11 email.

In his announcement, Keady said that he plans to donate whatever money his campaign has received to the Women’s March, 180 Turning Lives Around, and the Sunrise Movement. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

The remaining candidates are Stephanie Schmid, David Applefield and Christine Conforti, according to Ballotpedia.

Gustavo Martínez Contreras covers Lakewood. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso and the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. Contact him at gmartinez@gannettnj.com or at 732-643-4061.

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