Christie’s Biggest Battle Isn’t Scandal

For Gov. Chris Christie, it’s his state’s budget — not “Bridgegate” — that could derail his 2016 ambitions.

The New Jersey Republican unveiled a plan on Tuesday to combat the state’s $807 million budget shortfall, as he’s required to do by state law. He says it wouldn’t raise taxes and would reduce pension payments for public workers.

But now the Christie administration must begin wrangling with a Democratic-controlled Legislature to pass the plan and overhaul the state’s finances. It’s his first major test since the fallout after senior officials in his administration were implicated in the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge as an apparent act of political payback. 

“This is a make-or-break moment for Chris Christie. As the Bridgegate scandal swirls around him, the best thing he can do is get Jersey’s fiscal house in order,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said. “If he can’t, that’s where they’ll tar and feather him if he gets up onstage in a GOP primary.”

Christie continued to blame former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat he defeated in 2009, for his budget woes during the unveiling of his proposal on Tuesday.

“We will not make the payment that apply to the sins of the past,” Christie said at a press conference on Tuesday in Trenton. “We’re still digging out of problems two decades in the making.”

Read more from Kevin Cirilli at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy