Sure, you’ve heard of Bridgegate, but Chris Christie’s entire career is a veritable litany of ruthlessness. Now, as the bully who would be president jumps into the 2016 race, we’ve gathered his victims’ stories. Presenting an abridged guide to the petty abuses and calculated skullduggery of the biggest jerk in politics.
As he cannonballs into the race for president this week, Chris Christie would like you to recall a different era in Republican politics. It wasn’t that long ago—two short years, or thereabouts—when the New Jersey governor was a favored contender for the White House. Absurd, right? But in those bygone days, the pugnacious Christie came off as a truth-slinging tough guy. And he made conservatives giddy.
That all changed, of course, when several of his lieutenants were implicated in the payback plot that became Bridgegate. Today he draws only around 4 percent of likely GOP voters. But even before Bridgegate, there lurked ample evidence that such a bullying schemer might not have the temperament for the White House. Just ask those he’s tangled with over the years. To discover what it’s like to be in Christie’s crosshairs, we reached across the decades of his career to locate some aggrieved souls who could describe the feeling best. Herewith, a sampling of stories—tales of both survival and ruin—that litter the political legacy of Chris Christie.
(Through his press team, Christie declined to be interviewed and his aides challenged the premise of this story, asserting that the governor can be a funny and all-around swell guy. They offered, among other things, these clips as evidence, which we present without comment.)
“Politics ain’t beanbag, okay? And everybody in the country who engages in politics knows that. On the other hand, that’s very, very different than saying that, you know, someone’s a bully…. I am who I am, but I am not a bully.” —Governor Chris Christie, January 2014
1. THE COLLEGE DICK: CHRISTIE’S REIGN BEGINS
Political patronage is a Christie habit that stretches back years—as does his talent for consolidating power. Both of those characteristics were on display in 1983 when he was elected student president at the University of Delaware. Building a political party that included his future wife, Mary Pat Foster, Christie dominated the elections. The following year, Christie’s brother, Todd, was placed in charge of the election committee, and Mary Pat ran unopposed for president to succeed Christie, who was preparing to go to law school but continued to pull the levers on a beta version of his political machine. His classmates could spot a budding backroom dealer. And even then, Christie loved to gloat.