Now, fresh on the heels of the scandal that is colloquially known as "bridge-gate," the headline story for cable news stations on Monday was that the Feds are launching an investigation into claims that Hurricane Sandy aid was misused by Christie for political purposes.
Political opponents of the New Jersey governor are specifically accusing Christie of misusing Sandy relief funds on an ad for Stronger Than The Storm. The campaign was an effort to promote tourism and businesses in the state and to show that not only was the New Jersey shore being rebuilt, it is better than ever:
So, what's the problem? Some democrats take issue with the fact that the ad features Christie and his family during an election year. It would only benefit Christie politically to have himself in these ads even though Christie was a major figure in the recovery effort and it seems like a smart move from a marketing standpoint to have the governor in the ad. What seems more suspect, however, is not that Christie was in the ad, but that his political opponents are using it for their own political reasons.Recent national polls on potential 2016 presidential candidates showed that Christie and Hillary Clinton are in a
statistical deadlock. While national polls can be taken with a grain of salt, it is not something most Democrats want to see. So, how do you take down a candidate who is just as popular as your candidate?
The answer: target the very thing that made him so popular.
The national public responded very positively to Christie standing up to fellow Republicans for criticizing how close he was to Obama after Hurricane Sandy and leading up to the presidential election and putting partisan politics aside to do what was best for the people of his state.
However, if opponents can use any data from an investigation into how relief funds were allocated, it could tarnish the image people have of Christie even after "bridge-gate" blows over -- assuming it does. The priority of Christie's biggest political opponents when looking ahead to 2016 would be to take out the biggest threat early.
Chris Christie's response to Sandy did benefit him politically, but there is no evidence to suggest that his actions were motivated by political ambitions. In fact, most indicators suggest that his efforts in Hurricane Sandy relief were genuine. Christie had no control over Hurricane Sandy occurring during a major election year, but he had full control over how he responded to it. While opponents argue he could have had someone else in the Stronger Than The Storm ad, he was the face of Sandy Hook relief efforts. The ad would not have had more impact with anyone else in it.