At this point, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is probably toast. According to the New York Times, the former Port Authority official who oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington bridge, David Wildstein, says that the order to close the lanes came from the Christie administration, and that he has evidence to prove that the governor knew as much. This, it’s worth noting, comes from a letter demanding that the Port Authority cover Wildstein’s legal fees.
In any case, it flies in the face of Christie’s claim, during a two-hour press conference earlier this month, that he had no knowledge of the closures prior to revelations that his officials were involved. “I was blindsided,” he told reporters, as he denied any “knowledge or involvement” in the incident.
If Wildstein has this evidence, and if it shows that Christie knew, then that’s it. The game is over. Not only will Christie have to abandon his presidential ambitions, but given the scope of his dishonesty, there’s a decent chance he’ll have to leave office.
In which case, the Republican Party will have lost its most electable candidate for the 2016 cycle. Which raises the question: Who else does the GOP have?
Neither Rand Paul nor Ted Cruz are likely to win the support of the Republican establishment, and Marco Rubio has seen his stock decline since the debacle around immigration reform. Jeb Bush hasn’t committed to running, Bobby Jindal is unpopular in his home state and elsewhere, and Governor Jon Kasich of Ohio may have ended his chances with his embrace of the Medicaid expansion.
With all of that said, there is one person who could fill Christie’s role as the establishment candidate. Indeed, he also holds real appeal to the base, and could bridge the divide between the two: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Now, Walker still needs to win reelection, which isn’t a given, though he had a substantial fundraising haul in the last quarter. But if he does, he will have solid credentials: A business-oriented blue state governor who beat unions, beat liberals, and implemented a whole host of right-wing reforms. He’s anti-abortion, anti-Obamacare, and has no interest in cooperating with Democrats.
This is the profile of someone who can make it through the primaries and emerge as a standard-bearer for the party. Of course, whether he could beat a strong opponent—like, for instance, Hillary Clinton—is an open question.