Some Christie Baggage Will Travel Fine in 2016 GOP Primaries
Two issues considered dead weight in a Chris Christie presidential run in 2016 can actually be carried through Republican primaries with little problem, according to one New Jersey political expert: Bridgegate and the governor's famous embrace of President Barack Obama after Superstorm Sandy.Christie is likely to encounter more turbulence from New Jersey's numerous credit downgrades, inadequately funded pension system and problematic judicial appointments than either of those two more sensationalized issues, according to Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
"Bridgegate is definitely a non-starter (as a concern) for Republicans. "The way this played out in New Jersey fed into the Christie narrative that this was a partisan witch hunt mounted by Democrats," Murray said.
Barring any indictments that come close to, or get the governor directly, Murray predicted the Bridgegate scandal could actually help Christie in a run for president.
"In many cases Bridgegate is a positive because it gives Christie some credibility of saying, 'Hey, I'm the guy that Democrats are afraid of - so much so that they'll mount this witch hunt against me,' and that has some resonance with Republicans," Murray said.
In September of 2013, access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee were closed without advance warning, causing major traffic jams for days. Democrats believe the lanes were ordered closed as political payback to the town's Democratic mayor for refusing to endorse Christie's re-election.
The governor has denied any involvement in the lane closures, and a law firm he hired to investigate the matter cleared him of any wrongdoing. The U.S. Attorney's investigation is ongoing, however.
Another issue not likely to hurt Christie, according to Murray, is his hug with Obama following Superstorm Sandy.
Following the storm in the fall of 2012, Obama visited the Garden State and pledged that the federal government would help the state recover. In the hug seen around the political world, Christie embraced Obama and conservatives blasted him for it.
But Murray believes those Republicans are unlikely Christie voters in any case.
"There are a number of conservative Republicans who have absolutely written the governor off since that hug with President Obama after Sandy and there's nothing that he (Christie) is going to be able to do to get them back," he said. "I think most people already know about that and that's already penetrated, so whatever damage that's done is complete now and I don't think it's going to be any worse."