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NJ Post-Christie: Where Do We Go from Here?

The Future of New Jersey Will Be Determined on Election Day, Nov. 7

By Jamal Kingston
On April 13, 2017

On March 29, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s senior aides Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni were sentenced to eighteen months and two years respectively in their roles in the September 2013 shutdown of the George Washington Bridge (GWB) in Fort Lee, N.J. The George Washington Bridge is one of the busiest throughways in the country, and the reasoning behind the shutdown was clearly political.

Baroni, who was the deputy executive of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and before that, a former state assemblyman and state senator who was seen as a rising GOP star in New Jersey down the line. Kelly was a key aide for Gov. Christie. Both were sentenced for helping orchestrate the closing of certain lanes on the GWB for political retribution. The reason behind that was be- cause the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., Democrat Mark Sokolich, refused to endorse Christie’s reelection in 2013, when the then-popular governor had approval ratings in the 60s and 70s and was trying to get bipartisan appeal from Democrats and Independents to get things done in the state and to show that he can be a consensus leader if elected president in 2016 to offset the partisan stalemate of the Bush-Obama presidential years.

Now, three and a half years later, the scandal has damaged Gov. Christie’s reputation and his political career overall. His 2016 presidential campaign went nowhere; dropping out of the Republican presidential campaign after spending most of his campaign time in New Hampshire, a state that he thought would have been a great state to lead off his campaign due to the Northeast appeal and his no-nonsense approach of governance and charismatic speaking style.

His approval ratings as of March 2017 are at 20 percent; before that it had plummeted to 17, which was the lowest for any New Jersey governor in a long period of time. Christie has a couple of months left in his governorship; he has focused on ending the opioid addiction that has caused distress across the state and the nation, he was appointed the head of President Trump’s drug commission. That may help Christie rebound his image somewhat as a strong executive after four years of scandal that cost him the presidency, the vice presidency; as he was rumored to be a strong possibility as Trump’s running mate and Cabinet positions such as Attorney General and White House Chief of Staff. He was forced out of the presidential transition team after Trump won on Nov. 8.

The state faces new challenges in 2017. The New Jersey governor’s election is this year. Primaries for both parties-Democratic and Republican are on June 6. To vote in the general election, Election Day is on Nov. 7. Numerous candidates have announced, the frontrunner for the governor’s race is Phil Murphy, former chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs. New Jersey will have a lot of decision making over the next couple of months and years.

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