Former Christie Ally, Opponent Always Knew Governor ‘Would Implode At Some Point’


A Republican who’s been both an ally and an opponent to Chris Christie, Richard Merkt said he knew the New Jersey governor’s acrimonious personality would ultimately be his undoing. He just didn’t think Christie’s downfall would come so soon.

Merkt, who teamed up with Christie in the 1990s to run for the state legislature before taking him on in the 2009 gubernatorial race, told New York magazine Wednesday that he sees shades of Nixon in the George Washington Bridge scandal.

“You know, reading the reports about the GW bridge fiasco, I recalled how similar the governor’s conduct during the re-election campaign was to that of President Nixon during his victorious re-election campaign in 1972,” Merkt said in an email.

Documents obtained by TPM and other outlets showed a top Christie official discussing lane closures on the heavily trafficked bridge last year. The documents give a strong impression that the closures were politically motivated revenge against a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse Christie’s 2013 re-election bid.

That’s vintage Christie, according to Merkt, who noted that the spiteful move came at a time when the governor was cruising to a massive victory over Democrat Barbara Buono.

“Given his vindictive nature, I always sensed that Christie would implode at some point, but I did not foresee it happening so soon or over such a petty matter,” Merkt said. “By the way, my recollection is that Nixon crushed McGovern by a 60 percent to 38 percent margin, a margin virtually identical to Christie’s victory over Buono. Funny how history repeats itself.”


Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at