I'm watching Rachel Maddow continue MSNBC's authentic journalism as they turn up the details on the growing Christie/Bridge/Hurricane Relief scandal. Or is that scandals?
And - of course - two thoughts have occurred to me. They're not connected, but worth exploring...
First, this very well may be the largest scandal of corruption by a state administration in modern history. In point of fact, it is reminiscent of the stuff of 19th century legend in places like Tammany Hall in Albany NY or the graft that permeated new, western state governments following the Civil War.
It's not one scandal. It's - wait - the bridge, some commuter parking lots (apparently, now) leased for $1 thanks to David Samson's law firm, the Hoboken disaster aid, the Belleville disaster aid in a non-disaster area, the bidding on the companies dispensing the aid, and - of course - the tourism ads. Is this just me, or is it time to say, "Hey, Warren Harding, move over! (and, yes, I realize this was a President, but you get the idea).
The other thought is this: The importance of Bergen County in statewide elections. Bergen is incredibly, densely populated. It's 800,000 plus residents are split between Republicans in the northern part of the county, and Democrats in the southern and eastern parts of the counties. So it's a swing county. Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Camden counties are reliably Democratic in total vote. There are several very Republican counties (Warren, Sussex, Hunterdon, Morris, Ocean, Cape May, Salem), but they are very small in population. And the other swing counties - Middlesex, Monmouth, Union - are smaller as well. Bergen is the big prize. A Democrat can win without it, but Republicans really, really, really need it to be close, if not to win it outright.
People from all over Bergen County (and a few other counties), commute into NY using the Bridge. It's not just the folks from Englewood Cliffs, Cliffside Park, Leonia, Englewood, Edgewater and Teaneck (the nearby towns) that use the GWB. It's the closest crossing (on both sides) for all of the commuters in the northern tier of towns in most of Bergen, Passaic, and Sussex counties.
So, has this bone-headed move, motivated by some combination of politics and greed possibly blown it for Republicans in Bergen County - the key county, the Ohio, of New Jersey? Are you equally pissed off at the Christie Administration if you are a Democrat in Cliffside Park or a Republican in Ridgewood? Of course you are!
What does this mean for state districts 38, 39 and 40 (38 splits, 39 and 40 are traditionally very Republican). And what about Republican hopes (already tough) to win another gubernatorial election or a Senate seat?
What does the pure, unadulterated sadism behind this "punishment" for Fort Lee do to Republican chances in Bergen County in the near future? What about in the long term? Commuting is a fact of life for a huge chunk of these voters, including - I'm sure - a large number of Republicans. These suburban voters are not the Republicans who are GOP because their preacher said so, or because they fear Obamacare or the diversification of the American electorate. The Northern NJ suburbs are socially pretty moderate and - frankly - they've been racially and ethnically diverse for decades.
So the emotional passion that would make these GOP voters GOP no matter what isn't there with a big group of them. So why would they stay with the party that intentionally, maliciously, ruined their commutes every morning for a week just for the hell of it?
I think the Christie Scandals, the largest gubernatorial scandal in my lifetime - certainly in terms of breadth, will have a long-term impact on their ability to win elections in New Jersey - just when it looked like Chris Christie may have made the GOP more competitive in the Garden State. Now he's pretty much ruined them there.