New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has kept a low profile since "Bridgegate" first broke, rarely making public appearances or engaging with the media. But despite the governor's best attempt to keep his head down and let the whole scandal blow over, the weeks following the first revelation of coordinated "traffic problems in Fort Lee" have only revealed more questionable actions and decisions from Christie's first term. This past weekend was no different.
Here's the latest:
- Concerning Bridgegate, the Associated Press reported that Democrats in the New Jersey state Assembly and Senate have decided to "pool their resources" and create a "joint bipartisan committee with power to subpoena people and correspondence related to the lane closings and abuse of power allegations."
- MSNBC's Ned Resnikoff released a detailed and in-depth report on one of Christie's now-forgotten but most controversial (and, Resnikoff argues, consequential) moves as governor: The decision to scrap the massive Access to the Region's Core project (ARC), an attempt to build a new rail tunnel from New Jersey to New York that was years in the making and, many believe, remains absolutely necessary. Resnikoff's reporting raises questions about whether Christie's stated justification for nixing the plan at the time — that it was running over budget and would cost New Jersey taxpayers billions — could be supported by the facts. Did Christie kill the ARC out of concern for his state's fiscal future, as he claims, or was it rather a showy attempt to please the nation's right-wing political class by grandstanding about public finances while simultaneously sticking his thumb in the eye of liberals everywhere who support new approaches to transportation?
- An editorial from the Star-Ledger, meanwhile, raises another potentially disturbing question for Christie: Did he have a prosecutor fired, and a case dismissed, because it involved a political ally? The Star-Ledger editors remind readers of Ben Barlyn, a former Hunterdon County prosecutor who alleges he was canned as a result of his refusal to drop a case against Hunterdon County Sheriff Deborah Trout, a political partner of Christie's. Barlyn is pushing the state Attorney General's Office to release transcripts he claims will prove his case was worth pursuing, but the state is strongly contesting the necessity of such a move — and the current attorney general, a Christie appointee, is even going so far as to request Barlyn and his lawyer be given a gag order.
- Elsewhere, in the world of politics, Republicans on the state as well as national level continue to gingerly support Christie, defending him and wishing him well without quite going "all in" and protecting the New Jersey governor to the hilt. "I wish Chris the best, and I hope he can get this fixed. I really have nothing more to add than that," said Rep. Paul Ryan at a luncheon held by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
- Similarly, Sen. Ted Cruz said on Sunday that he was "rooting" for Christie. “I think it's unfortunate he's found himself in this mess, and I hope he can extricate himself. I'm certainly rooting for him to do so, because I think he's an effective leader and I'd like to see him move on to governing New Jersey and not being mired in this scandal," he said.
- Mitt Romney, for his part, has kind words for the man he decided was too corrupt to be his partner on the 2012 Republican ticket.
- A report from Matt Friedman at the Star-Ledger finds New Jersey's Republicans are adrift, uncertain how to respond to Christie's ongoing troubles, and searching for leadership. On the record, state Republicans tell Friedman they're confident everything will be fine; but off the record, assessments are considerably less rosy.
- And no doubt disappointing those who were entertaining fantasies of recalling Christie from the governorship, Joshua Spivak writes in the Week that the obstacles to such a move are significant. Not only does state law require that the governor not be recalled until he's served at least a year of his term, but a successful recall would need signatures from 25 percent of the state's registered voters, a minimum of 1,377,762 people. Ultimately, Spivak concludes Christie "has many challenges in trying to woo back voters and improve his 2016 prospects. But a recall is not something he needs to fear."