Kean: New Jersey Republicans 'relieved' by Christie presser

Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean (R), a mentor to Gov. Chris Christie (R), said New Jersey Republicans were “relieved” by the way Christie handled the bridge closure scandal at Thursday's press conference.

“The general feeling was a sigh of relief,” the longtime political player in the state told The Hill.

ADVERTISEMENT
Kean said that “the rumors out there were bad” in New Jersey’s political class, and that some were suggesting “there was deeper involvement from the governor" after emails surfaced that a top aide had a role in closing lanes of the heavily trafficked George Washington Bridge last fall as political retribution against the Fort Lee, N.J., mayor. 

But those concerns, he said, have dissipated.

“The ones who are active now, I think they were a little bit nervous about what would happen in the press conference, and I think the feeling I now get from them is that they’re relieved," Kean said. "The governor handled himself well." 

However, Kean said earlier Thursday that “there are still unanswered questions” about what happened with the lane closures.

On Wednesday, shortly after emails surfaced that implicated a top Christie aide in the closures that snarled traffic in September after the town's Democratic mayor refused to endorse the Christie's reelection, Kean had suggested that Christie should “get it all out now.”

He also noted that Christie’s staff had left Republicans in the state to help mitigate the situation without any further instructions or talking points.

Going forward, the former governor told The Hill on Thursday he expects this will cause some supporters of a potential Christie presidential run to reconsider his candidacy. But he said he believes the governor “can recover from this, if nothing further comes out.”

Kean said Christie could move past the incident if there isn't "anything that comes out showing he had involvement in any way beyond what he indicated today, if what he said today stands, that he had no knowledge of it."