Christie Texas trip highlights damage of bridge scandal

For the first time in two decades, Texas is electing itself a new governor, making the contest — featuring liberal heroine Wendy Davis — one of the marquee races of this election year. That alone would be good reason for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, head of the GOP’s gubernatorial campaign arm, to drop by the Lone Star State. There’s also this: Texas is a deeply red bastion bursting with fat cats slinging fat wallets who could serve Christie well in a prospective 2016 bid for president.

Indeed, Christie’s chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association, with its network-building, chit-gathering capacity, was one of the reasons some installed him as an early favorite for the GOP nomination, following his smashing reelection victory last November. But that, of course, was before the George Washington Bridge scandal drove Christie’s White House ambitions into a ditch.

The governor was in Texas on Thursday, raising money for the RGA, and the nature of his visit demonstrated everything that need be said about the current state of his political disunion. The events in Dallas and Fort Worth were held behind closed doors, with no press coverage allowed. The state’s presumptive GOP gubernatorial nominee, Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott, chose to be elsewhere during Christie’s visit, as did outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

The Texas jaunt follows a Christie trip last month to Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott, locked in a tough reelection fight, sneaked into a similar fundraiser through a back entrance rather than having his picture taken alongside New Jersey’s scandal-stricken governor. Out of sight, as it were, if not out of mind. The facts surrounding the bridge scandal are in dispute and subject to multiple investigations.

It is clear that Christie’s aides manufactured several epic traffic jams leading to the bridge after the Democratic mayor of nearby Fort Lee, N.J., refused to endorse the governor for a second term. Christie has adamantly insisted he had nothing whatever to do with the perceived payback and said he fired two aides aware of the plan as soon as he learned of their actions. Steadily, however, new revelations have kept the scandal very much alive, feeding the cravings of a ravenous New York-New Jersey press corps. (Would there be half as much coverage if Christie was governor of, say, Nebraska?)

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