Welcome!

News Feed Item

The Effect of Bridgegate on Chris Christie's Political Brand

Christopher Johnson, CEO of Whitehorn Group, Shares His Opinion on How Christie Can Retain His Hopes for the Whitehouse in 2016

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - January 20, 2014) - Chris Christie has always portrayed an image of a straight shooting-politician who is never afraid to say what is in his mind. He often shouts down hecklers in political rallies, with critics branding him a political bully. However, his willingness to cross the political divide for the sake of regular people has earned him praise from both Democrats and Republicans more than a few times. Generally, he has avoided petty politics that only serve an idea and that do not create realistic solutions. Christopher Johnson points out, "With Christie, what you see is mostly what you get. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the lives of many Americans in New Jersey he courageously ignored the politics of the day to help the victims -- and embraced President Obama's support to the consternation of his party."

Like it or not, Chris Christie's inimitable political brand is well known in New Jersey and the New York metro. Johnson says, "However the bridge-closing scandal, now popularly known as Bridgegate, could potentially destroy Chris Christie's political brand." Last fall, multiple access lanes of an onramp to the George Washington Bridge plaza in the town of Fort Lee, N.J., were closed for four long days. As a result major traffic jams formed that slowed down emergency workers and children beginning the school year, not to mention the Jewish New Year. Even more egregious, the traffic continued on 9/11, even though the GW Bridge is a major terrorist target. After Chris Christie and his supporters vehemently denied they had anything to do with it, a group of Democratic state legislators began an investigation on why the lanes were closed. Just recently these legislators released internal emails that showed that Christie's aides intentionally created the traffic jams as retribution against the Mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie for re-election. Johnson explains, "Though Christie hasn't been directly linked to the scandal yet, it may still damage his political brand and give his opponents a new line of attack in future elections." 

Johnson says, "Chris Christie's brand, which was mostly created by the media, has been a forthright leader who shoots from the hip and works across political divides. Not always well liked in this land of partisan politics, but impossible to ignore." Worse yet, this scandal makes him look more like a political Pit-bull who doesn't tolerate people who disagree with him. Not good. The media has always described his politics as fresh, different, compassionate and passionate. Now the media has a tough task ahead to reconcile the caricature they've built of the Governor with these shocking revelations about his governance -- and it is just getting started.

So far three people in the Christie administration have lost their jobs because of this scandal and the U.S Attorney General is investigating whether any Federal laws were broken. Though the Governor took responsibility for the traffic jams, his adamant denial that he was not aware of this creates political risk for him. This is because of the ongoing investigation on the issue that may ultimately link him with the scandals. But no one scandal ever sinks an unwavering candidate. Take Bill Clinton who went on to serve for two terms even after the Gennifer Flowers scandal in 1992. However, unlike Clinton, Christie has a penchant for publicly embarrassing people to make his point. Also, not good. Both Democrats and Republicans said that the Governor's 2016 Presidential prospects could be severely undermined, if not crippled, should new evidence emerge that contradicts these denials. Former New Jersey Governor, Tom Kean, noted that unless something new develops Christie would survive. But Kean also added that if other incidents similar to this emerge, it would be a big problem. David Axelrod, a top adviser to President Barack Obama's campaigns, also asserted on his own Twitter feed that the Governor might live to fight another day if other scandals that implicate him don't emerge.

Johnson elaborates, "Christie knows just how much damage this scandal can inflict on his political brand and that is probably why he has repeatedly apologized and has stated that he values bipartisanship and compromise. He also added that the scandal was an exception, not the rule for what has happened over the last four years in his administration. It makes sense for him to do this because Bridgegate has created a national impression that he is a political bulldozer who takes no prisoners." Johnson cautions, "Christies' brand as a straight talking, trustworthy leader has been transformed into political persecutor. Christie must handle this situation with finesse and transparency to strengthen the positive aspects of his behavior or else his brand will be forever weakened -- and any chance of a Republican nod for the Whitehouse in 2016."

True to his brand, the Governor did admit that at the end of the day he is responsible for what happens under his watch. Most leaders in both the private sector and the public sector are often accused of hiding and covering up the truth instead of speaking clearly and openly about their actions. By also apologizing personally to the Mayor and the people of Fort Lee, Christie has put his finger in the dyke and modeled the kind of behavior we should expect in our leaders.

According to the latest polls this approach seems to be working. The NBC News/Marist poll revealed that since the news broke over a week ago, one-third of voters haven't changed their minds about Christie. However, 16% of Americans liked him less. Not great, but also not the worst. The poll also showed that Christie remains the marginal 2016 Presidential frontrunner, two years before any primary votes are cast. If these numbers hold up he may just still have a shot at the Presidency. Johnson says, "Presidential potential, yes, maybe -- whether you agree with his politics or not. But, right now this is a big maybe -- because he must solidify and expand upon the qualities of his brand that could help revive the GOP and transform the party's message." Can this be truly be accomplished? This is hard to say at the moment unless Christie can perform well under the increasingly intense legal and public scrutiny started by Bridgegate -- which now includes accusations of strong-arm tactics from several New Jersey Mayors. Just yesterday, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer came forward publicly to say that Christie himself threatened the withholding of significant Sandy recovery funds that her city deserved unless she backed a redevelopment plan he favored. Now that Christie is exposed, issues like this are likely to continue.

Johnson concludes, "Even under fire, the resulting attention which started from Bridgegate may just give Christie the national platform he needs for a broad repositioning of the Christie political brand itself. Right now this is mostly up to Christie himself and his ability to employ smart and effective brand management practices. There's still time, just not a lot." In addition to the emerging accusations and where all of this will ultimately lead, there is also the open issue of the conservative Republican favorites such as Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio or even Jeb Bush if he decides to run. The 2016 election is two years away so just about anything can happen that can either deliver his hopes for the Whitehouse, or forever scuttle his plans. 

About Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is CEO of branding firm Whitehorn Group. Mr. Johnson is a highly regarded authority on creating political, celebrity and consumer brands, like Infiniti Motor Company and JetBlue Airways. He attended Carnegie Mellon University where he won the Tholenheimer Award and McCurdy Prize. www.christopherwjohnson.com

About Whitehorn Group

Whitehorn is a premier brand strategy firm. They create what's NEW and NEXT through global branding, design, product innovation, political and celebrity brands, business strategy, global marketing and distribution. www.whitehorngroup.com

The following files are available for download:

More Stories By Marketwired .

Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

Latest Stories
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
"Plutora provides release and testing environment capabilities to the enterprise," explained Dalibor Siroky, Director and Co-founder of Plutora, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive ad...
In his session at DevOps Summit, Tapabrata Pal, Director of Enterprise Architecture at Capital One, will tell a story about how Capital One has embraced Agile and DevOps Security practices across the Enterprise – driven by Enterprise Architecture; bringing in Development, Operations and Information Security organizations together. Capital Ones DevOpsSec practice is based upon three "pillars" – Shift-Left, Automate Everything, Dashboard Everything. Within about three years, from 100% waterfall, C...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed ...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
While many government agencies have embraced the idea of employing cloud computing as a tool for increasing the efficiency and flexibility of IT, many still struggle with large scale adoption. The challenge is mainly attributed to the federated structure of these agencies as well as the immaturity of brokerage and governance tools and models. Initiatives like FedRAMP are a great first step toward solving many of these challenges but there are a lot of unknowns that are yet to be tackled. In hi...