By John Celock
Just over a year and a half after he easily won a second term, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) approval rating continues to tumble as Garden State residents question whether he is being truthful about Bridgegate.
A Monmouth University Poll released Monday, the first since three of his former allies were implicated in the plan to shut down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in 2013, shows that 35 percent of New Jersey voters surveyed approve of Christie’s job approval with 56 percent disapproving, the lowest rating he’s seen since taking office in 2010. The poll also showed that 69 percent of those surveyed don’t believe that Christie, a likely 2016 presidential candidate has been completely honest with New Jersey residents about what he knew about Bridgegate, while 23 percent believe he has told all that he knows.
On Friday, David Wildstein, a former Christie appointee to a top Port Authority of New York and New Jersey post, pled guilty in the plan to shut down the access lanes in retaliation for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee not endorsing Christie’s reelection. On Monday, Bill Baroni, the Port Authority’s former deputy executive director, and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, pled not guilty to charges that they conspired to shut down the access lanes. Kelly authored a now famous email to Wildstein saying that “it is time for some traffic in Fort Lee” prior to the Port Authority shutting the lanes down. Baroni contended to New Jersey lawmakers that the lane closures were part of a traffic study.
Baroni and Kelly have denied involvement in the lane shutdown.
The poll showed that 52 percent of New Jersey Republicans surveyed do not believe Christie is sharing everything he knew about the closure but also said that they do not believe Christie was involved in the decision. The poll showed that most Democrats and independents believe Christie knew about the lane closure. The governor has said he did not.
The poll also showed that 50 percent of those surveyed believe that Christie was personally involved in the lane closure decision and 34 percent say he was not involved.
The poll comes as Christie continues to ramp up a likely 2016 presidential bid. Christie has made several trips to New Hampshire where he has held town hall meetings. He has said a decision would not come until after New Jersey’s budget wraps up later this spring.
The low approval rating comes after Christie easily defeated former state Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) in the 2013 gubernatorial race with 60 percent of the vote. The 2013 contest was marked with Christie’s popularity following Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and over 60 Democratic elected officials across the state endorsing Christie over Buono.