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Jan. 10, 2014

Christie’s Bridge Toll

The New Jersey governor’s traffic scandal may derail his presidential aspirations.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whom some consider a frontrunner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination despite his decidedly un-conservative agenda, may find his aspirations derailed in the aftermath of a traffic scandal. The Leftmedia is certainly doing its part, so far covering Christie 17 times more often in 24 hours than the IRS scandal over the last six months. The background: Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, declined to endorse Christie for re-election last year, and some of Christie’s aides apparently decided to enact retribution through September lane closures on the George Washington Bridge into New York. At the time, they explained it as a “traffic study.”

However, incriminating emails and text messages came to light revealing that these traffic jams were intended to punish the mayor for his snub. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” wrote deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly in an Aug. 13 email to Port Authority executive David Wildstein. Of course, the victims were the voters of Fort Lee, who went for Christie by a fair margin.

Christie apologized profusely Thursday, saying he was “embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.” He fired Kelly for lying to him when he sought answers last month about the emerging scandal, and he also told campaign manager Bill Stepien to withdraw from consideration for New Jersey GOP chief. Wildstein resigned in December.

Despite his apology, Christie distanced himself from his staff’s “abject stupidity,” saying he had “no knowledge or involvement in this issue.” Furthermore, he said, “I never saw this as political retribution because I didn’t think [Sokolich] did anything to us.” Christie already struggles to shake the image of a bully due to his aggressive style, though he has also been regarded as a straight talker. But now, whether or not he “ordered the code red,” the “what did he know and when did he know it” question could nag him into 2016. After all, can you imagine a president using the power of his office to punish his political opponents? Neither can we.

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