I really was concerned about Christie in 2016, and I seriously felt that Democrats were underestimating the appeal that “plain speaking and blunt assholes” like Christie have to a lot of people- even if he was a damned Yankee. He would have been a very credible opponent, I think, in 2016, and the Republicans would have come around to him were he the nominee. I no longer have such fears:
The administration of Gov. Chris Christie worked to cultivate Fort Lee’s mayor for at least a year and a half before lanes were closed at the George Washington Bridge in an act of political retribution, according to testimony from a former aide to the governor on Tuesday.
The description of the efforts to woo the mayor seemed to run contrary to the governor’s statement after the lane closings exploded into a scandal in January that Mayor Mark Sokolich had never been on his “radar screen.”
In seven hours of testimony before the legislative committee investigating the lane closings, Matt Mowers, who worked in the governor’s office and then for his 2013 re-election campaign, described an aggressive political operation that closely monitored its attempts to secure endorsements from Mr. Sokolich and other Democrats. The governor’s advisers hoped this would allow Mr. Christie to present himself as the Republican presidential candidate with bipartisan appeal.***
Late that month, Mr. Mowers sent a note to the town announcing “good news,” that the governor had asked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to spend $162,000 on shuttle buses to help move Fort Lee residents across the Hudson River. In February 2013, Bill Stepien, a deputy chief of staff who later ran the governor’s re-election campaign, sent Mr. Mowers an email noting that the shuttle service had begun, and that the administration had approved it months ago. “Hope he remembers,” he wrote.
“I’ll be sure to remind him when we speak later.” Mr. Mowers wrote back.
The next month, however, Mr. Mowers sent another email noting that “Sokolich is going to be a no.”
“It’s a shame too,” he wrote. “I really like the guy.”
Mr. Mowers testified that “in colorful language” the mayor had told him he supported the governor, but could not endorse him because he feared he would lose business relationships, and would prompt retribution from Democrats.
He was asked if that surprised him.
“Given what I heard from other elected officials,” Mr. Mowers replied, “it didn’t as much, unfortunately.”
In August of that year, he said, Bridget Anne Kelly phoned to ask if the mayor’s endorsement was definitely out of the question. He confirmed that it was. The next day, Ms. Kelly sent the email to a Port Authority official saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
I’ve been wrong too many times to count before, but right now Christie is looking like an ex-parrot. Even better, it looks like Ben Carson is going to run, so we have the starts of another clown car caucus running for the 2016 GOP nod.