The most immediate effect of the new allegation on Gov. Christie could be his leadership of the Republican Governors Association, according to a Monmouth University pollster.
“The big question in this is whether it makes other Republicans question his effectiveness as chair of the RGA, Patrick Murray told The Star-Ledger Friday
"He doesn’t have time to let this story play out and then recover from it,” Murray said.
“He has to be out raising money on the trail right now, and if he’s seen as potentially toxic while these questions are still out in the public, that might force him to take a lower profile role or resign from that office.”
Christie has had mixed support for his RGA chairmanship as the burgeoning bridge-gate scandal unfolded.
Former Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli told CNN
Jan. 21 "it makes sense" for the scandal-tainted executive to step down since "perception is reality."
"He does not serve the goals of that organization by staying its chairman," Cuccinelli said.
But former Senate candidate Steve Lonegan told "The Steve Malzberg Show" he strongly disagreed.
"Republicans need to take a lesson from Ronald Reagan's book. When [Secretary of Labor] Ray Donovan was being hung out there to dry in the press, even before an election, he stood up behind [him and] never backed off …" Lonegan said
"[Donovan] had that famous quote when he was vindicated, 'Where do I go to get my reputation back?' I'd say that three months from now, Chris Christie's going to be working on getting his reputation back because this is a political pile-on."
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has also advised Christie to stay put.
"I don't know of a better governor right now to lead that effort that is just a powerhouse across the country," Priebus told CNN
after Cuccinelli's slam.
"I have seen seen him turn crowds on and his job is to raise a lot of money for the RGA and he can do that and I am sure the RGA is proud to have him."
But a new allegation
from a former Port Authority official who claims the governor knew about the George Washington Bridge lanes' closure while it was occurring, and has the evidence to prove it, could be lethal, Murray said.
“But if they’re not true, he can weather this," he told The Star-Ledger.
"He can take a big hit and he’s got to build a buffer, but he’s got enough time between now and 2016 to do that."
As RGA chairman, Christie plans to tour the country raising money and campaigning for several of the 22 Republican governors up for re-election.
At the same time, the barnstorming could provide him a platform to promote himself while gathering potential allies and donors for a White House bid.
"Everyone is worried," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Reuters in mid-January.
"But the donors are going to take a wait-and-see approach. They're not cutting off the spigot yet."
"Donors really like Chris Christie, especially Wall Street donors," another GOP strategist and lobbyist John Feehery told the news agency.
"If it turns out he's a huge big liar" about not knowing about the lane-closure plan in advance, "that's when they find somebody else."
Reuters contributed to this report
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