New Jersey Pinoys react to scandal-embroiled governor

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Jan. 16, 2014

NEW JERSEY – Just days before he swears in for his second term, New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie is facing the biggest controversies of his political career – a bridge scandal followed by a post-Superstorm Sandy tourism ad controversy.

Christie denies involvement in the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that caused massive days-long traffic jam back in September.

The allegation – it was a political move said to be orchestrated by his top aide to punish Fort Lee’s democratic mayor for allegedly refusing to endorse Christie’s re-election bid.

Christie has since fired his aide but some New Jerseyans are not buying Christie’s denial, while others remain faithful.

“I think he’s a liar and I think he knew what happened, “Jersey City, NJ Resident Donna Loughner said. “He is trying to protect himself so he can run again for President. It was his idea of getting even with somebody else which is wrong.”

Filipino Republican Kenny Quiza said, “I don’t see anything wrong about it, that’s what I know. Everybody likes him. He’s a Christian, he’s against same-sex marriage, and he’s a good governor, I could tell.”

The second scandal that federal auditors are now investigating is whether the governor improperly used $25 million in Superstorm Sandy relief funds to produce tourism ads – starring himself and his family.

Filipino Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro says he ran for public office to change the “business as usual” politics in Jersey City.

He says while Christie remains innocent until proven guilty, these scandals have a broader implication – it speaks of the culture of politics in the state of New Jersey.

Lavarro said, “What is clear is that there’s a culture and a pattern of strong arm politics that the governor’s office has been using over his first term. It kind of reached the height of arrogance with the GWB Lane closures and recently the cancelled meetings with Mayor Fulop.”

Meantime, a new NBC News/Marist poll released Wednesday showed otherwise. The poll shows that most Americans haven’t changed their opinion about the Republican governor – considered to be a frontrunner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Nearly 70 percent of those polled say they still believe in the governor. Half of them described him as a strong leader.

Conservative Jersey City resident Chris Sotomayor said, “I’m neutral because Gov. Christie is doing good things for New Jersey.”

However, the poll also shows that the scandals are impacting his most talked about presidential ambition.

In a hypothetical presidential race, the poll shows that Christie is now trailing behind Democratic presidential nomination frontrunner Hillary Clinton by 13 points when Christie was only down by three points in last month’s survey.

Loughner said, “I’m sorry to say but he’s just a real bad guy. I don’t think he should run for anything.”

New York resident Emmanuel Tabones said, “2016 is two years away. In my opinion, I think it’s probably going to be a minor issue two years from now. It’ll subside and won’t be an issue. There’s going to be much bigger problems in 2016.”

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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