Anyone paying any attention to the political news, except on FOX, has obviously been hearing a lot about “beleaguered” governor Chris Christie. PoliticalBlogtobeNamedLater is a little late to the game here, but there’s no better time to begin than now!
As we all know, several weeks ago, emails from Christie’s former Lieutenant Chief of Staff, Bridget Anne Kelley, surfaced thanks to an investigation that had been going on in the New Jersey legislature. Famously, Kelley emailed, “time for some traffic problems in fort Lee” to Port Authority political appointee David Wildstein, long considered a close ally to Governor Chris Christie. What ensued, beginning on September 9th, 2013, was days of traffic that extended from the George Washington Bridge, by many estimates the busiest bridge in the world, to engulf the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey. When officials on the New York side of the Port Authority finally put a stop to the lane closures, emails referenced “Samson“, presumably David Samson, Christie’s top appointee at the Port Authority and another close political ally, trying to clean up the mess. An investigation in the state legislature followed, with rumors flying that the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge had been politically motivated.
After the emails were released to the press, Christie initially made no appearances in public for the entire day. The emails were an internet sensation by 9 A.M., but Christie did not address the media until that evening. When he did finally hold a press conference, Christie employed the old ‘Arnie Vinick trick, and held an absolute filibuster of a two-hour plus press conference. In the press conference, Christie managed to assert that he was sorry, that it was not his fault, that he had no knowledge of any of the events that had occurred, that he was ultimately in charge of everyone in his administration, and that he was really sorry and not responsible.
Before the original “Bridgegate” scandal could even begin to blow over, though, another story gained national notice. According to Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who allegedly kept contemporaneous records of her meetings during the period, Christie’s Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadango, had threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief funds unless the mayor agreed to green-light a local real estate development. The icing on the cake? The company attempting to buy said real estate was being represented by the law firm of none other than Port Authority Chairman David Samson.
More recently, Christie’s brother, Todd Christie, has been embroiled in controversy surrounding his investment in a property in Harrison, New Jersey, received $256 million in funding soon after the sale was complete.
Even today, more news is hitting the airwaves that the Christie administration may have given money from Hurricane Sandy relief effort to Belleville, a town that was less than deserving, to spend on a “senior center and housing complex”, possibly not the most important thing to spend money on in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Of course, the windfall for Belleville did not appear out of thin air- the town’s mayor had endorsed Governor Christie, always keen to show his bipartisan credentials with opposite-party endorsements, in his successful run for reelection last year
In all of these separate “gates”, up to this point, there is one clear trend: Chris Christie did not know any of it.
At this point, it’s cliche to say that, if he didn’t know about all of these separate scandals, it shows such poor leadership and organizational skills, that it would pretty much disqualify him from the Republican nomination. But it really is true. Even in the very, absolute, 100% best-case scenario, in which none of the various investigations are able to find any malfeasance on Christie’s part, only incompetence, he will still be disqualified from winning the Republican primary in 2016. As it stands, well above 50% of his own constituents in New Jersey do not believe Christie is telling the truth. Already. With so many other, similar, candidates, like Governor Scott Walker and Congressman Paul Ryan, both from Wisconsin, already testing the presidential waters Christie will not be able to gather the early momentum in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada etc. to win the Republican primary.
Let me be clear, I do believe that Christie will find the megalomania and right-wing echo-chamber induced stupidity within himself to run for the the Republican nomination in 2016, but I no longer believe he has any chance at winning it, no matter what happens in the various investigations. As the commentariat has been so gleefully pointing out, as an ostensibly moderate Republican, Christie already had tepid support from the rabidly conservative base of his party. Now, with them already suspicious of him, Christie will inevitably be very weak when the first “Bridgegate” or “bully” attack ad flies, and oh, it will fly!
Should it come out that Christie was, in fact, involved in the planning and execution of any or all of the various scandals he is involved in, or knew that they had happened and has been lying publicly the last few weeks, Christie will have to resign and leave big time public life for at least two presidential terms (8 years).
Should it come out, however, that Christie was somehow involved in using his power of office to enrich his brother, his ally at the Port Authority, David Samson, or himself, Christie will go to federal prison for a long, long time. Already, the New Jersey state legislature has retained Reid Schar, the very same prosecutor who put Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich behind bars for selling President Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.
For Christie, the nightmare scenario is this: it comes to light that the real reason for political retribution against Fort Lee, and its Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich, was similar to the accusations in Hoboken, Harrison, and Belleville. In this scenario, the Governor would be proven to have been pressuring local mayors to give sweetheart deals to a law firm owned by one of his top political allies, David Samson, tipping off his brother, Todd Christie, about an impending investment opportunity, and rewarding a pliable Democratic mayor by giving his town hurricane relief funding that it did not deserve. In THAT scenario, you can say goodbye to Chris Christie on the political scene until Malia Obama is ready for her road to the presidency.