By Jake Mulick
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes that was Bridgegate in 2013, Gov. Chris Christie was ready to take on Washington, D.C., with his no-nonsense, confrontational, maverick attitude. Or so it seemed. After the New Jersey governor took a disappointing sixth place in the New Hampshire primary, he has decided to end his bid for the White House.
Just a few years ago, many people had pegged Christie as the favorite to lead the Republican’s charge to regain the presidency in 2016. A hard-headed decision maker who had made strides in a state run mainly by Democrats, Christie appeared to be a bipartisan savior. Unfortunately, Sept. 9, 2013, the date of the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, brought about the unfortunate end to Christie’s ambitious political career. Now, Christie’s return to his home state means that important items, such as the budget, will be resolved in the near future.
A Washington Post article from May 1, 2015, summarized Bridgegate quite effectively: Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich refused to endorse Christie during his 2013 re-election bid for governor. Popular opinion was that, in retaliation for this, Christie ordered the closing of two out of three toll lanes during the morning rush hour, without notifying the public and breaking multiple federal and state laws. This story gained national attention and effectively lumped Christie in with the stereotypical corrupt New Jersey politician.
Although it has been almost three years since Bridgegate, the effects of Christie’s fall have not yet left him. The American Research group reported that Christie polled an abysmal six percent in New Hampshire, forcing the New Jersey governor to officially throw in the towel. Christie had gone from being the keynote speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention to not being able to garner 10 percent of the vote in a crucial swing state, such as New Hampshire. Christie has had a long and public fall from grace, culminating in his approval rating plummeting in his home state of New Jersey.
Now that Christie is back to governing New Jersey full time, we can expect a lot from the former presidential candidate. The first thing on his plate is the 2016 state budget. The biggest problem with this hypothetical budget is the pension system in the state. According to an nj.com article from Feb. 2015, the pension system is in a massive amount of debt and this budget is Christie’s vehicle at reforming the entire system. New Jersey is looking to recuperate fiscally in the new year, and the same nj.com article reported that state Democrats are looking to compromise with the current governor.
During Christie’s presidential run, he had to lean very far right on the issues due to his drop in popularity from bipartisan voters, forcing him to find supporters. The Democrat-controlled state senate is looking to make some deals with the governor and hoping he sees reason after dropping from the national spotlight, the New York Times reported.
Christie’s future looks incredibly uncertain. His smartest political move would be making a run for senator after his term as governor is up, considering that current U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s name is floating around as a potential vice president running mate and that Sen. Robert Menendez is currently being indicted for bribery. If not, there isn’t anything obviously available to him on a national stage, unless one of his Republican counterparts offers him a spot through their presidential run. Everybody in New Jersey better be ready to see a lot of their governor for the upcoming years, seeing as it is not really feasible for him to go anywhere else. With that said, it might be a better idea to take the Lincoln Tunnel and skip the bridge.