By way of background: the George Washington Bridge
, which connects Fort Lee, NJ, to Manhattan, is the busiest bridge in the world. On September 9th, the first day of school for Fort Lee, three lanes of the GWB were closed by the New Jersey Port Authority, supposedly as part of a traffic study, creating an epic traffic nightmare that shut down most of Fort Lee. Last month, Rachel Maddow and others started reporting on indications that the closures may have been revenge
for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich's refusal to endorse Christie in his bid last year for re-election. The Governor's office adamantly denied that the closures had anything to do with them
. That's where things stood as of yesterday, and can find a timeline of the unfolding of the scandal up to today here
Today, news site NorthJersey.com, the web presence of The Bergen Record, released emails they obtained
(pdf) that tie the closures of those lanes directly to the Governor's Office. Quoting their story on those emails
The messages are replete with references and insults to Fort Lee’s mayor, who had failed to endorse Christie for re-election and they chronicle how local officials tried to reach the Port Authority in a vain effort to eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of 35,000, which sits in the shadow of the bridge, the world’s busiest.
Needless to say, Mayor Sokolich is pissed
, and two Democratic NJ legislators are calling for a Federal investigation into the matter
. You can read more about this at CBS
, the New York Daily News
, or elsewhere.
Why, you ask, does this story have national importance? This poll illustrates why:CNN/ORC Poll
released 26 December 2013:
For President (General, 2016)
Chris Christie (R) 48%
Hillary Clinton (D) 46%
N=950 registered voters nationwide
Simply put, if Hillary Clinton decides to run for President, Chris Christie is the only Republican who stands a good chance of beating her. She creams everyone else in the field. It's therefore to the Democrats' advantage to paint Christie as a petty, spiteful jerk who's not above abusing his power over relatively minor slights. For this reason, I pretty much ignored the reporting of this story on MSNBC and other talking head outlets as having ulterior motives. These emails change all that, because they give the story real weight. Not to mention legs.