Any glimmer of a possible 2016 presidential run for Chris Christie is starting to fade far away.
The embattled New Jersey governor continues to lose ground in hypothetical presidential match-ups in key swing states. In a Quinnipiac poll released Friday, the Republican saw a 10-point drop in support since November, before his administration became embroiled in controversy over several different political schemes. The poll adds to a trove of surveys out this week showing that Christie, who once led possible GOP presidential contenders, is now slipping in favorability.
Christie probably wants Americans to associate his state with this weekend’s Super Bowl – not the mounting allegations that his office abused its power. But new developments involving Christie’s inner circle certainly won’t do him any favors.
For the past week, Christie has tried to divert unwanted media attention away to focus on Sunday’s football game, which will take place at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday.
Christie and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – who has criticized the lane closures as “immoral” – made a joint appearance in Jersey City for a Super Bowl kick-off concert on Monday, where the two were seen joking and chatting with their arms around each other. And on Wednesday, the governor held a press conference to discuss his efforts to prevent sex trafficking at the Super Bowl. He did not take questions.
On Thursday morning, the Republican governor gave an interview to 94WIP sports radio in Philadelphia on the condition that the subject did not stray away from sports. It was his first interview since his epic, 2-hour long press conference after top staffers were caught as the architects behind the political scheme to shutter the George Washington Bridge. An upbeat Christie on Thursday predicted the Denver Broncos would beat the Seattle Seahawks during the big game.
The troubles facing Christie continue to grow after a report in The New York Times showed that as far back as of May 2013, Democratic Mayor of Hoboken Dawn Zimmer was being pressured by the governor’s allies to green light a development project in her city.
Zimmer requested a meeting with Christie officials following a severe rainstorm that left parts of the city flooded. She was scheduled to meet with officials from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection the following day about ways to protect her city from future storm damage.
But emails sent among the participants, obtained by the Times, show that the first topic of discussion was “review of concepts for flood control measures at Rockefeller property,” a reference to a proposed office complex for the north end of town. The project’s developer, the Rockefeller Group, sent two executives, two lobbyists and an engineer to the meeting.
The mayor has said that she received a call the following day saying that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican, would visit Hoboken the following week. Zimmer says that during that visit, Guadagno told her the Rockefeller project was important to the governor and that the project needed to “move forward” if Mayor Zimmer hoped to receive relief money for Hurricane Sandy damage. Team Christie has defended itself, insisting state officials met with Zimmer at least five times in the past year to discuss how they could help Hoboken recover from the storm. Guadagno has denied she delivered any ultimatum.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that a number of private and public actors with ties to Christie have been pushing for the development project. That includes David Samson, who is a Christie advisor and the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Rockefeller Group, which just happens be represented by the Samson’s law firm.
Christie, of course, is already embroiled in a scandal over his aides’ alleged political payback plan to cause a traffic jam in Fort Lee.
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has also claimed state officials canceled a series of meetings it set up with Fulop after he told Christie’s allies he wouldn’t be endorsing the Republican governor’s re-election bid. And Olympian Carl Lewis says Christie – a potential 2016 presidential candidate – dropped a plan to make him New Jersey’s first physical fitness ambassador after he decided to run against a Republican incumbent for state senate in 2011.
Fellow Republican, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who just 11 days ago derided an investigation into Christie as a “partisan witch hunt,” acknowledged that it’s possible the governor knew about the orders to close the lanes on the bridge.
“It’s 50-50. It leaves you with no possible way of knowing did [his aide Bridget Anne Kelly] discuss it with him or didn’t she discuss it with him,” Giuliani said on 77WABC on Wednesday.
Giuliani did continue to defend Christie however, saying he was being “unfairly treated. He added: “The reality is, even if you are a hands-on mayor or governor or chief executive, at best you must know about 10 or 20% of what’s going on otherwise you’d never get through the day.”