Democrats Drag Bridgegate Into Race To Succeed Christie

FORT LEE, N.J. (AP) -

Democrats hoping to win this year’s contest to succeed Republican Gov. Chris Christie dragged the George Washington Bridge lane closures scandal into the campaign, with the mayor whose streets were deliberately gridlocked in 2013 taking aim at the administration.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich joined fellow Democrats Rep. Bill Pascrell, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer on Tuesday to attack Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who is Democrat Phil Murphy’s top rival in the Nov. 7 contest.

“I can’t think of another town in the state that yearns for strong, strong honest leadership more than Fort Lee,” Sokolich said.

Guadagno was not implicated in the Bridgegate scandal and Christie, who denied wrongdoing, was not charged.

Prosecutors say the 2013 scheme was masterminded by Christie aide David Wildstein, who pleaded guilty in federal court, and resulted in Fort Lee’s access lanes to the bridge being closed at the start of the school year. The bridge is one of the busiest in the world.

The scandal stemmed from an effort to exact political retribution against Sokolich, who declined to endorse Christie’s reelection. Christie had been aiming to rack up Democratic support ahead of his re-election.

Tuesday’s event, at a park overlooking the bridge, included a Murphy campaign sign and was aimed at attempting to link Guadagno to the Bridgegate scandal.

The event came the day Murphy unveiled a new 30-second ad that says Christie and Guadagno’s biggest triumph “was a traffic jam.” Guadagno’s campaign called the ad “pathetic” and shot down any connection between Christie’s top deputy and the scandal.