Chris Christie: Water Under The Bridge?

Republicans are confident that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” problems are behind him, and they say he’s weathered a storm that would make him an even more formidable 2016 GOP presidential candidate.

An investigation by New Jersey lawmakers released on Monday didn’t turn up any evidence directly linking the GOP governor to a politically motivated scheme to close traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge last year. 

In addition, GOP observers say Democrats’ eagerness to sink Christie has helped him burnish a reputation among conservatives as the candidate whom liberals fear most against Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.

“I have never seen a candidate that the Democrats wanted to sweep under the rug faster than Christie,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Now he can say, ‘I’m the one Democrats are trying to trash. Why do you think they’re so afraid of me?’ ” 

That doesn’t mean the political risks of the scandal are completely gone, though.

“Democrats are going to dig to China to turn up everything they can on this,” O’Connell said.

“If they’re just saying he couldn’t control his staff, that’s a far less sexy story,” O’Connell said.

“One of his biggest challenges will be to not allow this ‘bullying’ meme to catch hold,” O’Connell said. “Politics is about perception, not reality, so he can’t let this stick.”

Of course, all of this is moot if another bombshell drops.

“But assuming another shoe doesn’t fall … if this is all Democrats can come up with, then I like his chances,” O’Connell said.

Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy