As the national media continues to churn stories about the investigation into the politically motivated traffic closure in New Jersey, the reaction to the story is showing just how much of a front-runner Gov. Chris Christie is for the 2016 Presidential race.
The fact that this situation has created such an intense media frenzy should strike fear into the hearts of Christie’s likely GOP 2016 competition.
To get this kind of media attention, even negative attention, Paul Ryan would need to smack someone on video, and he’s a high profile opponent. Some of the lower tier GOP likely candidates would need to commit some sort of felony to get this kind of coverage.
I’m not saying that the coverage has been a positive thing for Christie; it’s certainly decimated any post-election momentum he may have had. However, the extent of the coverage should be a sign that Christie is a force to be reckoned with. You only get a target on your back with this much laser focus if you are worth the attention.
While the traffic jams ordered by Christie aides have been described as somehow singlehandedly bringing civilization to a standstill, when everything is said and done, it was a traffic jam. It was also a traffic jam on a highway that leads into one of the busiest cities in the world.
If lawsuits are going come out after every traffic jam that was caused by a political battle on the east coast, the courts are going to be busy.
With a little under two years before the 2016 election, this controversy should be long forgotten by the campaign really gets rolling. And as political controversies go, I am very confident that Christie would happily take the heat on this instead of the Benghazi problem Hillary Clinton will be dealing with throughout this year.
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What the coverage of this story tells us about the future is that the media microscope will remain on Christie. Unless his staffers are going to follow this story with other political payback schemes, not all of future coverage under that microscope will be bad. Some may in fact be positive news. All of it will be free publicity building to the 2016 campaign.
Meanwhile, the combined coverage of all of the other GOP candidates for the 2016 presidential race won’t come close to even a fraction of what Christie will garner over the next few weeks.
The traffic controversy in New Jersey has taught many political lessons. It teaches leaders to be sure that their top aides are not seeking petty revenge against political opponents. It teaches that even minor stories can reach into high places.
And it teaches that if Chris Christie’s potential GOP opponents in 2016 want to catch up in free media coverage, they are going to need to find a way to cause one heckuva traffic jam.
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– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.