Christie to Give State of State Speech in Shadow of Bridge-gate

Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 07:17 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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As embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tries to redirect focus on Garden State policy during his State of the State address in Trenton, state and federal inquiries into his administration are getting underway.

The New York Times characterizes the speech, awkwardly timed amid the fallout from the George Washington Bridge scandal, as a political high-wire act for Christie, who can seize the spotlight to couch himself as a “policy-purveying statesman” without having to answer questions.

Christie’s aides say the governor will address the politically motivated closing of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge after Fort Lee, NJ.’s mayor declined to endorse the popular incumbent Republican governor for reelection. But the crux of the speech will tout Christie’s pet priorities: extending the school day and year, lowering property taxes and reducing urban crime, according to the Times.

Though Christie fired two top aides for their purported roles in the scandal known as bridge-gate, new documents have surfaced that suggest the Fort Lee mayor not have been the only one on the receiving end of a vengeful Christie administration.

Jersey City officials claim its mayor – who also did not back the governor’s reelection bid -- was “punished” last summer by having access to top state officials cut off, according to The Washington Post.

In Washington, federal auditors have launched an investigation into whether Hurricane Sandy recovery money was used to pay for a costly tourism marketing campaign last year featuring the governor and his family.

An inquiry is already underway into the role of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency responsible for the bridges and tunnels that connect the two states.

In excerpts from his 30-minute speech, Christie will laud the spirit of bipartisanship, a trait that earned him huge favorability ratings from both Republicans and Democrats and catapulted him to the short list of likely 2016 GOP presidential candidates. The bridge scandal may have derailed those ambitions, though it’s too soon to know, a Montclair State University political science professor opined to the Times.

“The reality is that this governor has to muddle through this one,” Brigid Callahan Harrison said.

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