Chris Christie, Survivor?

Now we see if New Jersey's governor has what it takes to right his administration.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a news conference Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton. N.J. Christie has fired a top aide who engineered political payback against a town mayor, saying she lied. Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly is the latest casualty in a widening scandal that threatens to upend Christie's second term and likely run for president in 2016. Documents show she arranged traffic jams to punish the mayor, who didn't endorse Christie for re-election.

Americans hate traffic jams and also dislike power-hungry political figures. Combine a massive traffic jam with overzealous political authorities and the people of New Jersey are bound to become angry. So will Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., survive? Based on Christie's personality and ambition and the media's short attention span, the quick answer could very well be yes.

Scandals have impacted many politicians' careers and aspirations. Some have survived, and others have fallen. Would it not be ironic if Christie's political career were sunk by a traffic jam as opposed to drugs, misuse of taxpayers' funds or texting explicit photos to a mistress?

Let's take former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has repeatedly been blamed for the Benghazi tragedy where four Americans died. Just a few days ago, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus stated on CNN that "scandals surround her." Despite her pathetic and inconclusive responses at the congressional committee hearings on Benghazi, Clinton is still the top pick as the Democratic presidential candidate.

[See a collection of editorial cartoons on Benghazi.]

The difference with Christie is that this scandal is local and directly impacted a number of residents in New Jersey. It hits closer to home. Everyone can relate to being stuck in a traffic jam. Those stuck on the bridge expressed rage and frustration.

In fact, the people of New Jersey are so upset that according to a Rasmussen poll released today, 57 percent of New Jersey voters believe that Christie should resign if he knew about the Fort Lee retaliation. This represents a big blow to Christie, who won his second term by a landslide and is considered a top Republican presidential contender.

The lingering question is why someone would think that taking revenge on a mayor by disrupting the lives of the citizens who they serve would be a smart political move? Quite frankly, Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, is a reckless political strategist who believed that she would not get caught. Seriously, has she ever heard of the National Security Agency? Emails, texts and phone messages are records and can be easily investigated. Most importantly, Kelly also forgot her duty to serve the people of New Jersey and her boss.

[Take the U.S. News Poll: Did Christie Handle 'Bridgegate' Correctly?]

I hope the independent investigation shows that Christie truly had no knowledge of the deceitful political maneuvering occurring in his office. Americans are getting really tired of politicians who fail to keep their word – for example, President Obama's failure to keep his promise that one can keep her health care plan and doctor.

While the scandal could haunt Christie for some time, he has taken full responsibility and is keeping true to his character. He is not avoiding the scandal, but facing the situation and taking the necessary and immediate steps to clean up the mess.

Moderate Republicans and independents are crossing their fingers that Christie will survive. He is known for working with both political parties and is viewed as a straight shooter who comes across as an honest, likable fellow. For the moderate Republicans, Christie is also their version of the new "hope and change" for the Republican Party. However, he is no darling of the conservative base and the tea party, so they will not be coming to his rescue any time soon.

[Check out 2013: The Year in Cartoons.]

Christie's primary goal in the next few months is to become the next political survivor. He is determined not to let a power grabbing political aide and politically driven Port Authority officials take him down. He will put up a good fight until the very end.

In the meantime, it will be a wait-and-see game where Christie needs to show humility and thoughtfulness to help him survive the political storm and the media's obsession with the story and not lose his supporters. This is a good time for the governor to reprioritize and focus on running his state and managing his staff effectively. Christie should know that there is little room for error when entering the national stage.

  • Read Ford O'Connell: Can Christie Bridge the Scandal to 2016?
  • Read Susan Milligan: Chris Christie's Self-Centered Bridge Scandal Press Conference
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly, an insider's guide to politics and policy.