For Gov. Chris Christie, the path to the presidency just hit a Jersey-size pothole.
Wednesday’s bombshell revelation that at least one member of the governor’s senior staff exacted political payback by orchestrating a massive traffic jam around the George Washington Bridge instantly transformed a local issue without much fizz into a national scandal that could have consequences for 2016.
“There are shock waves running through the national Republican Party right now,” said Brigid Harrison, a professor of political science at Montclair State University. “(Christie’s) opponen
ts now have something they can use to conjure up the image of the New Jersey politician as a thug, and I don’t know that sells well in Iowa or some of the earlier primary states.”
It’s a long way to the presidential primary, of course, and Christie has not declared himself a candidate, but political handicappers have characterized him as a front-runner.
Now he’s faced with the first substantial blemish on a carefully crafted image as a tough but pragmatic leader who can cast aside partisanship for the sake of good governance.
In a statement late Wednesday afternoon, Christie disavowed any knowledge of the scandal, saying he had been misled by a member of his staff. He called the unannounced lane closures “completely inappropriate” and “unsanctioned,” saying “people will be held responsible for their actions.”
But Democrats at the state and national levels immediately began feasting on the governor, who had repeatedly — and at times mockingly — denied his administration played any role in the September lane closures, which created gridlock in Fort Lee.
Read the full story at NJ.com (Published Jan. 9, 2014)