New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was sworn in for a second term Wednesday as heavy snow battered the state and scandal continued to swirl around his administration.
Christie and his staff have come under fire over the past two weeks after e-mails emerged connecting the governor’s office to the closure of two lanes from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge, reportedly as a retaliatory political stunt against the town’s mayor for not endorsing Christie during his re-election campaign.
Christie has vehemently denied any knowledge of what has come to be known as “Bridgegate,” apologized repeatedly and fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly.
This could not have come at a worse time for the governor, as many anticipate he will make a run for president in 2016, an aspiration Seton Hall associate professor Dr. Matthew Hale said could be put in significant jeopardy if more information is released tying Christie directly to the scandal.
“It’s an enormous scandal that I think threatens Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions,” said Hale, who appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” to speak about Bridgegate. “If it doesn’t go away, it threatens the rest of his gubernatorial term,” he said.
A separate allegation also emerged on Monday from Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, on behalf of Christie, threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy aid from the flooded city unless given support for a nearby development project. Guadagno called the Democratic mayor’s claims “not only false, but illogical” on Monday.
Hale said that like Bridgegate, this has the potential to be immensely harmful to Christie if more information were to arise. However, Hale pointed out that the mayor took nine months to come forward with this accusation and that the current evidence is little more than diary notes from Zimmer.
Overall, Hale said he believes it is too early to tell what will happen to Christie.
“If there are more revelations, if there’s more information that comes out that he in fact knew more than he said, it can be extremely damaging to his hopes,” Hale said. “But if all is out there, if there is no connection between him and the bridge scandal, then I think he can overcome it.”
On campus, student opinion differs regarding Christie’s woes. Some, such as Seton Hall College Republicans President Joe Pistritto, said they believe the governor when he says he had no involvement.
“This is a man who loves the people of this state and would never use them as a pawn in his political chess game,” said Pistritto, who volunteers for the New Jersey Republican Party. “To suggest that Governor Christie himself had orchestrated the GWB lane closures is completely absurd.”
Others, such as sophomore Angelo Piro, said they believe Bridgegate has just exposed Christie for who he truly is.
“Bridgegate by itself is not the end of Chris Christie; he will survive it,” said Piro, a member of the College Democrats. “But it does show people the real Chris Christie, someone who is willing to bully and threaten his way through an election, and say that he is different.”
Clayton Coiler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.