Pollsters: Christie Bridge-Gate report doesn't increase the governor's popularity
EDISON - Political pollsters say Gov. Chris Christie's popularity has dwindled since the investigation into the George Washington Bridge closures began, and the release of his own report on the scandal won't change that.
Patrick Murray, of Monmouth University Polling, says Christie's approval numbers in New Jersey have slipped since Bridge-Gate began, and if he has any desire to pursue the White House, he has some work to do.
"The audience is not the New Jersey public for this," Murray says. "The audience is the RNC leadership, the Republican donor base down in D.C. These are folks the governor needs to get back on his side."
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As he considers running for president, the report could be a tool to get political donor money flowing again with a simple message.
"This is a political witch hunt, yes," Murray says. "Some things were done wrong by people on the staff, but not by Chris Christie and this report shows that."
People who denounced Christie before denounced his attorney's report. "I believe the governor got the report that he paid for from an attorney who is very close to him," says state Sen. Loretta Weinberg. "I believe the report raises more questions than it answers and the kindest thing I can say about it is that it's quite premature."
Assembly Chair John Wisniewski called the governor's report light on facts. "It reads more like a novel than a work of fact."
Wisniewski also wondered why an inappropriate relationship between two Bridge-Gate players, former Christie staffer Bridget Kelly and Port Authority official Bill Stepien, were important at all.
"It seems to be wholly gratuitous and adds a salacious element but I'm not sure why it's there or what it proves," Wisniewski says.
The report is written by Christie's counsel in his defense, but it's not the final word. "There's a lot of extra information in there that looks to exonerate the governor but isn't factual information," Murray says.
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has also accused the governor of wrongdoing, weighed in on the cost of the elaborate report. "Randy Mastro could have written his report the day he was hired and saved the taxpayers the million dollars in fees he billed in generating this one-sided whitewash of serious misconduct by the Christie Administration."