- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s popularity has sunk to an all-time low in New Jersey in the wake of indictments linked to the Bridegate scandal, which has put a dent in the Republican governor’s presidential aspirations.

A Monmouth University poll released Monday showed that 56 percent of the state’s registered voters disapprove of the job Mr. Christie is doing and 35 percent approve, marking a drop since February when 47 percent approved of his performance and 46 percent disapproved.

That finding also contrast with the 70 percent approval rating that Mr. Christie held following Hurricane Sandy in 2013.

“Christie’s overwhelmingly positive ratings in the aftermath of Sandy have now been sliced in half,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Christie’s ratings had stabilized after the initial Bridgegate revelations early last year. They started to erode again last fall, but these post-indictment numbers mark a significant acceleration in that decline.”

The Bridgegate scandal continued to unfold last week after David Wildstein, a Christie ally and former official of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to two counts of conspiracy and indicated that he is cooperating with federal prosecutors in the 16-month investigation.

A judge also unsealed indictments against Bridget Anne Kelly, Mr. Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, then-deputy executive director of the Port Authority and another Christie appointee, on nine counts related to closing the lanes in an act of political retribution against a mayor that refused to endorse Mr. Christie’s re-election bid in 2013.

Mr. Christie has denied any knowledge of the plot, though Mr. Wildstein’s attorney has said that evidence exists that Mr. Christie knew about the lane closures at the time.

The Monmouth Poll released Monday showed that 9 percent of New Jerseyans believe that Mr. Wildstein, Ms. Kelly and Mr. Baroni were the only people involved in closing the lanes.

Half of New Jersey residents believe the governor was personally involved in the closures.

“The governor has maintained that he was not involved in the lane closures nor did he know about them as they were happening,” Mr. Murray said. “Most New Jerseyans don’t buy it.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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