By David Cruz
On the day after the State of the State speech, it’s common for a chief executive to take to the road or hit the airwaves to promote the agenda presented in that speech. But these are not common times for Gov. Chris Christie and today, he was out of sight. Aside from proposing a longer school day and year, and changes to state pensions, there was little in the speech to distract from the GWB story. Former Gov. Tom Kean acknowledged that it’s hard to avoid.
“This is the craziest, most unusual kind of a situation and story that I have ever seen or ever heard and I still don’t understand it. Makes no sense to me,” Kean said.
One of the more memorable sights from the governor’s speech came as he made his way into the Assembly chambers. He shook hands with his current nemesis — Assemblyman John Wisniewski.
“Well, I just wanted to make it clear to the governor that this was not about him, this was not about me. This was about getting to the bottom of the questions that we all have about what prompted Bridget Kelly to send that email,” Wisniewski said.
In a scandal that has seen new revelations almost daily, images — of the governor and David Wildstein walking and laughing together on Sept. 11, while thousands of unsuspecting motorists sat in an epic traffic jam — have generated new buzz, coming just a few days after the governor downplayed his relationship with Wildstein and insisted he hadn’t spoken to him during the lane closures.
“I think some of the stories that have been written impute an emotional relationship and a closeness between me and David that doesn’t exist,” Christie said previously.
“It’s hard to believe that he spent that time with the governor, in an election year, with such a major problem happening on the George Washington Bridge and Fort Lee and there was just no discussion at all. It’s just hard to believe,” Wisniewski said.
There is evidence now that the scandal is beginning to have an effect on the governor’s Teflon coating. A Quinnipiac University poll out today found Christie’s approval rating down to 55 percent from 68 percent in July and his disapproval number is at 38 percent, up from 26 percent in July. Voters familiar with the scandal — 41 percent — say Christie knew what his aides were doing, but 50 percent say they don’t think he did.
The legislative committees that will take this investigation to the next phase will be officially empaneled tomorrow. Today, Assembly Democrats named former Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar as special counsel. Schar — who is a partner at the law firm Jenner & Block — just happens to be the guy who investigated and prosecuted Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges. Blagojevich is the former governor of Illinois.