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October 28, 2016

Obituaries for Chris Christie's political career

It's difficult to see where New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie goes from here. Once heralded as a political outsider destined to shake up the system (sound familiar?), he now seems to be gasping for political air.

He's hooked onto the political bandwagon of Donald Trump. Yet even as he heads the Republican presidential nominee's White House transition team, he's been a no-show for Trump on the campaign trail ever since the leaked comments of the businessman talking about touching women without consent.

One of the only times Christie has talked about the controversy was to a reporter who stopped him on the street, and the governor seemed to distance himself from the campaign during that interview.

In New Jersey, his poll numbers are lower than they've ever been. His lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, has abandoned him on the controversial gas tax.

And now there's the Bridgegate trial, in which members of his administration are accused of orchestrating a bogus traffic study as political retribution, former aide Bridget Anne Kelly has painted Christie a bully, saying the governor once tossed a water bottle at her in frustration. 

Christie isn't charged in the case and has maintained that he didn't know of the alleged scheme. But Kelly and three others have contradicted Christie's story about what he did and didn't know about the plot.

So with Election Day drawing near, and Trump's decreasing chances of taking the White House, the obituaries for Christie's political career are rolling in.

First, it was Alex Wagner of The Atlantic. Wagner focused on the accusations leveled against Christie by his former aides and allies in the Bridgegate trial, calling the governor's last year an "implosion." Per Wagner:

Either way, Christie’s second term is proving to be quite different than his first one: that blustery charm is nowhere to be seen, and the public has instead been left with stories of brutish cruelty, of power run amok — as Christie himself has slunk quietly to stage right, willfully camouflaged by Trump’s shadow.

To that end, much ink has been spilled on Trump and his hijacking of the establishment, his broad disavowal of facts—a disregard for the norms of democracy that seems to be unprecedented. As it turns out, you can judge a candidate by the company he keeps. And for Chris Christie and Donald Trump, this appears to be doubly true.

Then, it was Politico New Jersey's Matt Friedman, who zeroed in on Christie's strained relationship with the state GOP as he pursued national ambitions. Per Friedman:

Once a GOP star, his fortunes have plummeted since the high point of his landslide re-election in 2013, and now look to be nearing rock-bottom as an aide’s trial leads to embarrassing revelations about his possible complicity in the notorious lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.

Budget and infrastructure setbacks have wrecked his narrative of a renewed New Jersey.

His failed presidential bid made him a punchline in his deep-blue home state, and his subsequent embrace of Trump has only made things worse.

Both pieces are worth a read, and you can view The Atlantic's article here and Politico's article here.