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
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
The financial services market is one of the most data-driven industries in the world, yet it’s bogged down by legacy CPU technologies that simply can’t keep up with the task of querying and visualizing billions of records. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Jared Parker, Director of Financial Services at Kinetica, will discuss how the advent of advanced in-database analytics on the GPU makes it possible to run sophisticated data science workloads on the same database that is housing the rich inf...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, will discuss how to use Kubernetes to setup a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace....
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of 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. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, 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. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry’s single source for the cloud. Fusion’s advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy 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. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Ge...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outlyer, a monitoring service for DevOps and operations teams, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of 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. Outlyer is a monitoring service for DevOps and Operations teams running Cloud, SaaS, Microservices and IoT deployments. Designed for today's dynamic environments that need beyond cloud-scale monitoring, we make monitoring effortless so you...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.