CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – New Jersey governor and potential presidential candidate Chris Christie has lost favor with some Chappaqua voters since emails and text messages connected his aides to a now-infamous traffic stunt.
The controversy is especially topical in Chappaqua, which is the adopted hometown of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Many are pointing to a possible showdown in the 2016 presidential race between Clinton and Christie. Neither has announced a decision yet.
Christie has denied any involvement in a political revenge scheme that shut several lanes in Fort Lee, N.J., leading to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013. On Thursday, Christie fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and severed ties with his top political aide, Bill Stepien.
According to published reports, Kelly sent an email Aug. 13, 2013 reading, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” She sent it to the director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority, David Wildstein, who replied, “Got it.” He resigned in early December.
“I think that people’s trust has been affected somewhat,” said Dr. Chjan Lim, a 20-year Chappaqua resident and math professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Lim, a Democrat, said if he had to vote for a Republican, he would choose Christie based on his perception as a straight shooter and ability to work across the aisle. However, the former Tarrytown resident said he would prefer to see Hillary Clinton in the White House.
Conversely, Andrea Meakem, speaking as a New Jersey native, said she would vote for Christie before voting for Clinton. The 13-year Chappaqua resident said she grew up in Ridgewood, about 20 minutes from the George Washington Bridge.
While Meakem said the situation is unsettling, she thinks Christie recovered well.
“I thought he did a great job of addressing it,” she said. “I don’t think he turned off any voters that would have already voted for him.”
Similarly, Stacey Stambleck of Chappaqua and Kim Mirkin of Mount Kisco both said they don’t think this controversy would hurt Christie’s chances if he decides to run for president. However, both said they would vote for the hometown candidate, Clinton.
Sabin Streeter isn’t as forgiving, saying that if Christie is connected to the traffic stunt, that it proves he is a bully.
“I thought he was OK until this,” Streeter said, as he picked up his dry cleaning at Chappaqua Dry Cleaners.
ABC News reports that New Jersey Democrats in the state Legislature are expected to release nearly 5,000 more emails and text messages.