Christie right to apologize, analysts say, but bridge scandal is not going away

Political analysts say Gov. Chris Christie did the right things by apologizing and firing his deputy chief of staff after emails showed she was involved in the George Washington Bridge scandal.

But analysts say the New Jersey controversy that has become a national story is far from over.

It could go on for months, according to Peter Woolley, who teaches political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Testimony remains to be heard from the various officials involved in emails about the lane closures and whether there was any criminal wrongdoing.

And there are there are still some questions about what Christie’s staff reports to the governor, said Patrick Murray, Monmouth University Polling Institute director.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“He’s made an image of running his administration one way. Today he told us that he runs it a different way,” Murray said. “So who is the real Chris Christie is a question that the public is going to start asking. And what do the people around him do?”

Assembly Transportation Committee chairman John Wisniewski, who is holding legislative hearings on the lane closures, said Thursday that Christie’s response doesn’t go far enough in resolving who authorized the lane closures that backed up traffic for days in Fort Lee — and why.

“It’s appropriate for him to apologize. I think it’s a couple of months too late, but I think it’s appropriate that he apologize to the people of Fort Lee, that he apologize to the people of the state New Jersey, to the people who use the George Washington Bridge, to the Legislature,” he said. “But it still doesn’t answer the questions.”

It strains credibility that someone in as high a position as fired Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly did not communicate the lane closure plans to the governor, Wisniewski said.

When all is said and done, Murray said he believes that Christie will weather the political storm over the bridge scandal — and keep his presidential hopes alive — unless there are disclosures of other incidents of political retribution by any of his top aides.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal