A panel on what went right and what went wrong in the 2013 New Jersey governor’s race has been canceled due to the bridge scandal that has engulfed the Chris Christie (R) administration in controversy.
“Unfortunately, due to recent controversies and ongoing investigations, it has become clear that a full discussion of the campaign is not possible at this time,” Rider University’s Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics said in a statement.
The Campaign Managers Conference panel discussion, which had been scheduled for Thursday, was to include some of the top officials from Christie’s sweeping reelection – adviser Bill Palatucci, pollster Adam Geller, and strategist Michael DuHaime.
Palatucci, a Christie fundraiser, has been one of the governor’s closest friends over the years. He worked closely during the campaign with Bill Stepien, Christie’s campaign manager.
Christie fired Stepien and Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly after it was revealed the two were apparently wrapped up in the scandal that closed lanes from one North Jersey town to the George Washington Bridge for days as political payback to the mayor of that town, Fort Lee, who declined to endorse Christie’s reelection.
In an email exchange with another ousted Christie administration official, David Wildstein, Stepien called the Fort Lee mayor an “idiot.” Stepien, who has been described as a mentee of DuHaime, has refused to cooperate with a state legislative investigation, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Ben Dworkin, a political science professor at Rider and the director of the institute, said he could not comment beyond the statement on the specific impetus for the change.