Bridgegate Could Be a ‘Game-Changer’ for Christie
Political experts have consistently said voters in Iowa and New Hampshire don't care about the Bridgegate scandal, but that could change as early as Friday if former Port Authority official and Gov. Chris Christie's longtime ally David Wildstein enters a guilty plea.
Wildstein was the recipient of the now infamous "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email sent by former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly.
"Voters around the country are going to care about this," said Fairleigh Dickinson University Political Science Professor Peter Woolley.
For weeks, Christie has been saying he'll announce if he's running for president sometime in May or June. Depending upon how it ultimately plays out, Bridgegate could be a game changer and a decision changer for the governor.
"If there are indictments of people who were appointed by the governor, who worked for the governor that will rub off on Christie as a presidential candidate even if he is not named," said Ben Dworkin, professor of political science at Rider University.
For four days in September of 2013, two of the three access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee were closed without prior warning. Democrats believed it was an act of political retaliation by Christie's inner circle because Fort Lee's mayor refused to endorse the governor's re-election campaign. Christie has denied any involvement and an internal probe cleared him of any wrongdoing.
"At the end of the day, if there are indictments and ultimately convictions it's very hard for him to wash his hands of it. When you have people you've appointed to office, political allies who are under indictment it reflects badly on you, no two ways about it," Woolley said.
The Bridgegate scandal has dogged Christie for a year-and-a-half, but Wednesday he shrugged off any suggestion that the U.S. Attorney's investigation would damage him politically.
"I don't know exactly what's going to be done and so I couldn't tell you and I'll react when I have an opportunity to react but again I don't think that has much to do with me," Christie said at a press conference in New Brunswick.