Even Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich doesn’t think his endorsement is important enough to spark a career-ending act of political retribution from Chris Christie staffers, but Rachel Maddow may have found the explanation: He was never the intended target. On her show Thursday night, Maddow theorized that the lane closure on the George Washington Bridge was actually motivated by the ongoing feud between the governor and Democrats over state Supreme Court justices.
Maddow reports (eleven minutes into the clip below) that the night before Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, wrote in a 7:35 a.m. e-mail, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” the governor pulled a Republican justice he liked off the bench for convoluted reasons, and called New Jersey Senate Democrats “animals” during a press conference. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, the leader of the Democrats who infuriated Christie, happens to represent Fort Lee.
In both scenario, a retaliatory traffic jam is a petty and ridiculous, but it makes a bit more sense if the target was someone with whom the governor had an established beef, rather than a mayor who can’t recall being asked for an endorsement.
One kink in the theory is Port Authority official David Wildstein’s e-mailed remark, “It will be a tough November for this little Serbian.” But since no one involved was Serbian anyway – Sokolich is Croatian – it’s possible Christie’s associates were just confused about the real reasons they were torturing innocent commuters.