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Christie recall campaign would face major hurdles

New Jersey Democrats reportedly considered attempting to recall the embattled governor in 2011, but ultimately rejected the idea.
Chris Christie
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie removes his coat following a visit City Hall Jan. 9, 2014, in Fort Lee, N.J.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may be taking fire from all sides over the revelation that members of his staff planned a major traffic jam as an act of political retribution, but that doesn't necessarily mean his political opponents will be able to boot him from office any time soon.

Although New Jersey state law allows for recall elections, Democrats would need to surmount major hurdles in order for that to become a possibility.

In order to trigger a recall election, Democrats would need to get at least 25% of all the registered voters in New Jersey to sign a petition. That adds up to a minimum of 1,377,762 people, or 75% of all registered Democrats in the state. In the last gubernatiorial election, Democratic challenger Barbara Buono received only 809,978 votes against Christie [PDF]—nearly 600,000 fewer than the number of signatures that would be required to trigger a recall.

New Jersey Democratic officials told msnbc that the idea of a recall had not yet been seriously discussed.

"We look forward to learning more from the investigation, but would prefer to refrain from speculating as to what steps should be taken next," said a spokesperson for the New Jersey State Democratic Committee (NJSDC) via email.

"Everything is on the table," said NJSDC executive director Justin Myers, though he declined further comment.

New Jersey has never recalled one of its governors, or even held a recall election. State Democrats considered launching a recall campaign against Gov. Christie back in 2011, but they ultimately rejected the strategy as too difficult and risky. Democratic officials were reportedly concerned that a failed recall bid could ultimately make Christie stronger than ever.

Even if a recall election doesn't happen, the embattled New Jersey governor still has plenty to be worried about. The U.S. attorney for New Jersey has launched an inquiry into the bridge scandal, and Buono has called on the Justice Department to determine "whether or not there is a criminal liability" in the case. New Jersey Working Families has launched a petition denouncing Christie as "unfit for the office he serves" and urging him to resign.