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Chris Christie is finished as a presidential candidate for 2016. Photo by: Luigi Novi

Fired Bridget Anne Kelly finishes Chris Christie as a presidential candidate

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Chris Christie is finished as a presidential candidate for 2016. Photo by: Luigi Novi

I don't know who Bridget Anne Kelly is, but she has scuppered Governor Chris Christie's bid for the White House. I just don't see a way back for the rotund governor. He may be lucky to retain his governorship.

Christie, known as arrogant and angry at times, has gone a bridge too far this time.

Bridget Anne is his deputy chief of staff and she passed along orders for lane closings on the George Washington Bridge to punish a political opponent of Christie's.

The e-mails from Kelly to a close Christie associate are dynamite. Local access to the town of Fort Lee from the bridge was blocked, ambulances were delayed, kids on their first day back in school were held in school buses for hours. CNN reported that a 91-year-old lady died of a heart attack when an ambulance was delayed.

The possibility of accidents with long lines and frustrated drivers was greatly increased.

On Wednesday the New York Times revealed the damning e-mails and Christie, for once, canceled a press conference and later made a statement absolving himself.

"What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable," said Christie. "I am outraged and deeply saddened ... this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.

"One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable, and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions."

Strange though, all the people in the e-mail chain were close friends or political operatives for Christie. His "see no evil" defense looks very shaky.

Hundreds of thousands of people were badly inconvenienced.

All because the local mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, did not side with Christie in his re-election as some other mayors did.

Imagine Christie's vindictive streak in the White House? Imagine operatives like Bridget Kelly working for him?

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Bridget Anne Kelly chillingly e-mailed David Wildstein, Christie's close friend from high school.

In the e-mails seen by The New York Times, Chairman of the Port Authority David Samson was also involved in the closures. The e-mails describe his efforts to "retaliate" against New York officials who had not been informed of the changes and sought to ease the situation.

The e-mails indicate that Christie's staff were closely aware of the political context. Christie, a Republican, was leaning on local Democratic officials to endorse his re-election bid so that he could then seek his party's presidential nomination in 2016 by arguing that he was the candidate who could attract bipartisan support in a blue state.

Fort Lee's Mayor Mark Sokolich refused to go along and was made pay a price – as were hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans.

In a statement yesterday Sokolich (referred derisively to as "the Serbian" in the e-mails even though he is of Croatian ancestry) unloaded on Christie: "How dare you schedule a man-made traffic disaster in my community?" Sokolich asked. "It's the example of the pettiest and most venomous side of politics."

The Times reports that in the e-mails and texts released, Christie's staff and appointees were gleeful when the abrupt lane closings gridlocked the town for four days, beginning with the first day of school and including the anniversary of Sep 11.

Sokolich, who had not been informed of the closings, texted Bill Baroni, the governor's top appointee at the Port Authority, asking for "help" because the lane closings were making children on buses late for school and leading to four hour traffic jams.

"Is it wrong that I am smiling?" Wildstein texted Kelly. "No," she texted back.

"I feel badly about the kids," he responded.

"They are the children of Buono voters," she said, referring to Christie's Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono, who was trailing consistently in the polls and lost by a wide margin.

After the lane closings were reversed by New York officials at the Port Authority, New Jersey officials expressed panic that their plan was not causing enough trouble.

"The New York side gave Fort Lee back all three lanes this morning. We are appropriately going nuts," Wildstein wrote to Kelly. "Samson helping us to retaliate."

"What??" she e-mailed back.

"Yes, unreal. Fixed now," he e-mailed.

Sokolich texted Baroni later that month seeking to understand why the lanes were closed, and said that people were saying it was "punishment."

"Try as I may to dispel these rumors I am having a tough time," he wrote.

Baroni, Kelly and Wildstein showed some alarm, swearing and discussing how they could avoid him while also stilling the growing disquiet.

Do we want this bunch in the White House?

No thanks, Mr. Christie.

Bridget Anne Kelly has become the scapegoat now that Christie has described her as "stupid" and "deceitful" before firing her. But what does she know and when did she know it?

She may well sink Christie in the weeks ahead.

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