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
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build their business on public cloud were challenged to run Big Data processing and analytics at scale. But recent advancements in Hadoop performance, security, and most importantly cloud-native integrations, are giving organizations the ability to truly gain value from all their data. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, David Tishgart, Director of Product Marketing ...
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, discussed how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from millio...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Masters Technologies, a leader in Network Visibility and Uptime Solutions, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Masters Technologies is a leading vendor in the network monitoring and high speed networking markets. Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, Interface Masters' expertise lies in Gigabit, 10 Gigabit and 40 Gigabit Eth...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
As software becomes more and more complex, we, as software developers, have been splitting up our code into smaller and smaller components. This is also true for the environment in which we run our code: going from bare metal, to VMs to the modern-day Cloud Native world of containers, schedulers and microservices. While we have figured out how to run containerized applications in the cloud using schedulers, we've yet to come up with a good solution to bridge the gap between getting your conta...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.
DevOps theory promotes a culture of continuous improvement built on collaboration, empowerment, systems thinking, and feedback loops. But how do you collaborate effectively across the traditional silos? How can you make decisions without system-wide visibility? How can you see the whole system when it is spread across teams and locations? How do you close feedback loops across teams and activities delivering complex multi-tier, cloud, container, serverless, and/or API-based services?
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here