Chris Christie was uncharacteristically terse in the wake of revelations that his staffers caused a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge in September, so on Wednesday night, it fell on Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich to add a dose of Jersey-style straight talk to the discussion. The official whose refusal to endorse Christie apparently sparked the closure let loose in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, calling it “the lowest, most venomous form of political retaliation.” Sokolich said he initially dismissed the idea that anyone would care that much about his endorsement. “Who would plausibly reduce themselves to closing lanes to the busiest bridge in the world?” Sokolich said, adding, “I’m actually rooting that the highest elected official in the state of New Jersey isn’t involved in this but I will tell you, I’m beginning to question my judgment.”
Sokolich said that thanks to Bridgegate, New Jersey has “ensured that we’re going to remain the butt of every political joke for the next 20 years on political misconduct,” but there’s at least one New Jersey politician who’s come out looking pretty good. The Wall Street Journal has a glowing report on the Democratic mayor, describing him as a man who’s devoted to his town, but not a big political player in the county. Even the former head of the local Republican party had kind words for Sokolich. “Everyone in town loves him,” said Joe Crasci. “He’s always around. He coaches Little League. He’s one of those guys. I don’t think he would waste his time fighting with the Port Authority.”
The Fort Lee mayor says he doesn’t even recall a specific endorsement request, but he didn’t want to back Christie for a variety of reasons (like having different political beliefs, for starters). “I’m grateful to my instincts because they certainly have proven me to be correct,” he said.
Sokolich called for those responsible for the lane closure to be removed from power, so they can’t “cause this type of damage to other unsuspecting communities.” “I was always scared about what would happen to Fort Lee when you stop reporting on this, Wolf, and all the other media channels stop reporting on it three months, six months, a year from now,” said Sokolich. “Who’s to say what they’re going to do to my borough, to my residents, to my citizens and to me?” It almost sounds paranoid, but if this is how they react to losing an insignificant political endorsement, maybe we don’t want to find out what happens if a scandal dashes their presidential hopes.