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Chris Christie’s political woes reach further into NH

Hoboken mayor is 1990 graduate of UNH

There were two established ties between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s political woes and New Hampshire.

One is that a former Christie campaign manager and current executive director of the state Republican Party has been subpoenaed as part of the probe into a massive traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge ordered by Christie aides.

The second is how this probe plays into Christie’s chances of securing the Republican nomination for president in 2016, a process that starts here in New Hampshire with the first-in-the-nation primary.

Now there’s a third tie.

The Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer, who is being questioned by investigators about Hurricane Sandy aid being withheld for political reasons, is a 1990 graduate of the University of New Hampshire.

Bridgegate, Trafficgate or whatever you want to call it has the Republican governor in a bit of a bind right now.

He fired two political aides earlier this month in connection with their scheme to close three lanes on the always-busy Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge as political payback to the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., a Democrat who didn’t support Christie for re-election. Fort Lee sits at the N.J. side of the bridge.

Christie has apologized, saying that he is not a bully and that he knew nothing of the scheme.

This impacted commuters, it delayed emergency response times, and it now being investigated by the Democrat-dominated New Jersey Legislature.

One of about two dozen subpoenas has gone to Matt Mowers, the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. According to the Union Leader, Mowers previously served in Christie's governor's office as regional government relations director, and for at least part of that time, his boss was Bridget Anne Kelly, the deputy chief of staff Christie fired.

Now we have a UNH graduate talking to investigators about political payback of a different kind, withholding critical aid to her city in the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy last year.

See the UNH Magazine profile of Dawn Zimmer and how she dealt with Hurricane Sandy here.

She made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows this week saying two members of Christie’s told her that Hoboken would not get Sandy relief funds unless the she approved a redevelopment project favored by the governor but not favored by Zimmer.

The big question in all this is if and how it will impact Christie’s future not only as governor but especially as a candidate for president.

After toying with the idea of running in 2012, Christie seems more likely to enter the race for 2016.

A big factor will be the New Hampshire primary.

So far, the broohaha isn’t affecting his standing in the Granite State, at least according to a Public Policy Polling survey published on Jan. 16.

Said PPP: The “newest look at the 2016 race in New Hampshire finds that Chris Christie is actually in a stronger position with Republican voters now following Bridgegate than he was on our last poll in September. Christie leads the GOP field with 24% to 12% each for Jeb Bush and Rand Paul, 11% for Mike Huckabee, 9% for Ted Cruz, 8% for Marco Rubio, 4% for Paul Ryan, and 3% each for Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker.”

Granite Staters, unless they see the proverbial smoking gun, are a pragmatic lot when it comes to politicians and political dust-ups. It’s Live Free or Die on one hand, This Too Shall Pass on the other.

Paul Briand is an editor with the Live Free or Die Alliance, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to the discussion and analysis of New Hampshire politics and policies.

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