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Chris Christie’s Traffic Scandal — Will It Cost Him A Presidential Run?

Thu, January 9, 2014 11:26am EDT by 6 Comments
Chris Christie Traffic Scandal

Orchestrating traffic jams on the nation’s busiest bridge to spite an opposing mayor sounds exactly like something a president SHOULDN’T be doing. So with the governor of New Jersey facing an absurd scandal, are his chances to be Head of State plummeting?

Until a few days ago, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was considered the frontrunner to represent the Republican party in the 2016 Presidential Election. But that was before he started facing allegations that he and his office purposely created a traffic nightmare near the George Washington Bridge as an act of political vengeance against a Democratic mayor. So what does Chris Christie’s future look like now?

Gov. Chris Christie: No Longer A Good Presidential Candidate?

Over the years, Christie has built an unblemished record as a model Republican and with an election coming up in 2016, it appeared that all the hard work was finally going to pay off in the form of a nomination. But with the U.S. Attorney announcing on Jan. 9 that they would be opening an inquiry into the bridge traffic scandal in New Jersey, it can’t exactly be said that Christie is still unblemished.

The bottom line is that no one likes a dirty politician. And Christie’s office shutting down access lanes to the GW Bridge near Fort Lee, New Jersey — where one of Christie’s public opponents Mark Sokolich happens to be mayor — is just the sort of shady, back room dealings that can tank an approval rating.

Whereas Christie was recently only thought of as a pillar of integrity and a possible bridge (no pun intended) between the feuding political parties, now he’s being cast as a self-serving bully, the New York Times writes.

Chris Christie Apologizes For Traffic Scandal

The September traffic jams in New Jersey were caused by Christie’s office closing access lanes to the GW Bridge. The traffic was not only an inconvenience, but it also delayed emergency services, which endangered countless lives.

What’s worse, e-mails surfaced on Jan. 8 suggesting that some of Christie’s aides orchestrated the traffic closures as part of a vendetta against Fort Lee mayor, Mark Sokolich, who did not support Christie at the polls. His staff had originally blamed the controversy on a mishandled traffic study — further suggesting that Christie and his constituents may have tried to cover up the scandal.

The governor apologized profusely and also took responsibility for the entire controversy during a press conference on Jan. 9, chastising himself and the aides who orchestrated the lane closures. Though he insisted he had no knowledge of the malicious intent, Christie also apologized for not immediately understanding the true nature of the situation and stated that he had terminated Bridget Kelly, who sent an email in August saying it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” according to The Record.

It remains to be seen if Christie’s apology — and his swift justice — will be enough to make up for this embarrassing and disparaging scandal, but there’s no doubt that his chances to run for president in 2016 have taken a serious hit.

— Andrew Gruttadaro

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