Will Christie’s Political Career Outlive His Scandals?

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By January 21 — the day of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s second inauguration — the political scandals dogging the undeclared Republican presidential hopeful had turned into deafening clamor.

Since winning the New Jersey governorship again in last November‘s election by a crushing margin, a victory that propelled him to the forefront of his party’s presidential contenders, his image has been marred. Two months ago, Christie was walking on water; now, he is treading water. Tuesday was not the triumphant moment most inaugurations turn out to be.

Christie’s staff spoiled his landslide victory with an exercise in political retribution: The governor’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, orchestrated an “unscheduled traffic study” to cause jams around the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee to punish the town’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie for re-election. Soon to follow was another controversy. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer claims the Christie administration made Superstorm Sandy recovery funds contingent on her support of a commercial development project.

In his second inaugural address, Christie stuck to his favorite theme: the importance of moving beyond partisanship. “This election has taught us that the ways we divide each other — by race, by class, by ethnicity, by wealth, by political party — is neither permanent nor necessary,” he said. “Our dreams are the same: a good job, a great education for our children, safe streets in our neighborhood, and core values which give our lives real meaning.”

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