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Christie’s Political Power Gets a Test

The first big test of how Bridgegate is playing on the national political stage comes this weekend in Florida for Gov. Chris Christie.

Florida Governor Rick Scott
Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-Florida) (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Christie will attend fundraisers in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando for Florida governor Rick Scott.

It will be Christie’s first out-of-state fundraising trip since his Bridgegate apology speech. He was well received Thursday night at a fundraiser for fellow Republican Steve Lonegan, a likely candidate for the 4th Congressional district seat being vacated by Jon Runyan. “This was a terrific event,” Lonegan told the Star Ledger. “We had a packed house. People were energized. The governor was magnanimous.”

Lonegan said Christie acknowledged Bridgegate when he addressed attendees. “He simply said very calmly ‘Look, let’s get through this. It’s unfortunate. It’s a mistake. It’s obviously very upsetting. But we’re going to work our way through it’,” related Lonegan.

Fred Malek, the RGA’s finance chairman, thinks Christie can move past Bridgeate. “I have heard from a few donors, and their general feeling is that Governor Christie is being truthful, has fully accepted responsibility and has acted decisively in firing those responsible for this awful act,” he told the Washington Post.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images)

The Wall Street Journal reports Scott has canceled joint appearances with Christie during the trip.

Democrats, meanwhile, will be trailing Christie at every stop. In an email, the Democrat National Committee said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Florida Democratic party officials will be holding press conferences to respond to Christie’s comments at the fundraisers. Most of the events are private and closed to the media.

“Chris Christie doesn’t want to answer questions about his scandal or Rick Scott just doesn’t want to be seen in public with Christie,” wrote the DNC in an email. “We don’t blame either of them.”

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