Matt Katz, New Jersey Public Radio
Matt Katz has covered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for more than three years, first for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he created The Christie Chronicles blog, and now for WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio, ...
Subpoenas are hitting his closest aides and allies. His approval rating in New Jersey has taken a modest hit. And suddenly, politicians long afraid of him are speaking out about his revenge-style of governing.
But headed into a three-day weekend, there’s some good news for Christie. The conservative base of the Republican Party, long skeptical of the New Jersey governor because of his bro-hug with President Obama after Sandy, is beginning to rally to his side. Here’s some evidence:
1) Christie’s political advisers tell NJPR that national donors who have long coveted a Christie presidential candidacy are calling to express support, not skepticism. According to Bill Palatucci, the governor’s confidante and link to the national donor base, interest in Christie fundraisers spiked after the scandal broke. Christie is headlining events this weekend in Florida for Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Governors Association, and Palatucci said in recent days he has gotten about two dozen calls for people looking to buy tickets at the last minute.
2) Other potential presidential candidates have taken a wait-and-see approach to the scandal. He has not been publicly attacked by other Republican governors or potential Republican presidential rivals, indicating that Christie’s stature within the party is not yet weakened.
3) The all-important conservative media is actually coming to Christie’s defense. It’s as if he earned some street cred by getting dragged through the media gauntlet. FOX News’ Sean Hannity used the opportunity to slam “liberal media” for not pushing harder on the Benghazi situation: “You can rest-assured that if Christie does go on to run for President, this issue will be mentioned by the liberal media in virtually every conversation or analysis. If Hillary Clinton runs for president, will Benghazi or the host of other scandals similarly coincide with their analysis? Highly doubtful.” Hannity said that compared to the evasive Clinton, Christie handled his scandal with "moral courage." And Rush Limbaugh, who once went so far as to call Christie a “Democrat,” also rushed to the governor’s defense this week after liberal rocker Bruce Springsteen and late-night host Jimmy Fallon made fun of Christie in a “Born To Run” parody.
4) Polls don’t indicate that Christie’s standing as the Republican presidential front-runner has diminished. A New Hampshire poll from Public Policy Polling taken after the release of the Bridgegate documents indicate Christie has a larger lead among Republicans than he did in September. And get this: 14 percent of GOP voters said it made them like him more.
But about those subpoenas. As Christie takes off for warmer climes, the Assembly committee investigating the Bridgegate scandal has made public the subpoenas they've issued, including one to the custodian of records at the Governor's office and another to Christie's campaign organization. Others being ordered to turn over correspondence related to the bridge are:
- Bill Baroni, former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director
- Bridget Ann Kelly, former Christie Deputy Chief of Staff
- Maria Comella, Christie Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications
- Michael Drewniak, Christie Press Secretary
- Nicole Davidman Drewniak, Fundraiser, Christie Campaign
- Regina Egea, Christie Chief of Staff
- Christina Genovese, Christie Director of Departmental Relations
- Charles McKenna, Christie Chief Counsel
- Evan Ridley, Christie aide
- Colin Reed, Christie Deputy Communications Director
- Kevin O'Dowd, former Christie Chief of Staff/Attorney General nominee
- David Wildstein, former Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects
- Bill Stepien, Christie Campaign Manager/Former Deputy Chief of Staff
- David Samson, Port Authority Chairman
- Matt Mowers, New Hampshire GOP Executive Director/Former Regional Political Director, 2013 Christie Campaign
- Philippe Danielides, senior advisor to chairman, Port Authority
- Cristina Lado, Director of Government & Community Relations, Port Authority
- Paul Nunziato, President, Port Authority Police Department