1. It was the fall of 2013, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was safely cruising toward reelection, widely expected to retain his seat of power.
3. But Christie was widely assumed to have much grander ambitions, considered by most pundits to be a likely candidate for president.
4. As such, Christie didn’t want to just defeat Buono…
5. …he wanted to beat her badly and with a large coalition.
6. Christie — a Republican — was looking to portray himself as a bipartisan candidate who could appeal to a majority of Americans. He asked Buono’s fellow New Jersey Democrats to pledge their allegiance to him.
8. One of the Democrats who refused to endorse Christie was the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., Mark Sokolich.
9. New Jersey politics being New Jersey politics, it was expected that Christie would not take this well.
10. And that Sokolich might expect reprisals from the Christie administration.
11. In mid-September 2013, two access lanes to the George Washington Bridge — which connects New Jersey and New York — were unexpectedly shut down for a week.
12. The George Washington Bridge is considered by the Port Authority to be the busiest bridge in the world. The partial closure created massive gridlock for a week. A vital artery had been severed and it was chaos.
13. The city directly in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge, whose first day of school coincidentally fell upon the lane closure and was marred by the massive traffic snarl? Fort Lee.
14. The official reason given by the Port Authority for the mysterious and costly closure was a “traffic study.”
15. Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich and other Democrats immediately cried foul, suggesting the bridge closure was an act of political revenge for not supporting Christie.
16. The Christie administration pushed back hard against the allegation.
17. Christie’s representatives called the retribution accusations “crazy,” and the governor himself ridiculed a reporter for asking him about it, scoffing, “You really are not serious with that question?”
18. Christie cruised to reelection in November, with the “bridge scandal” merely a blip in local media. If he so chose, he could now set his sights on running for president.
19. But this week, following a subpoena by state investigators, private emails and texts between higher-ups in the Christie administration have blown the lid off of this scandal.
20. On Aug. 13 — a few weeks before the lane closings — Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly had this rather unambiguous email exchange Christie’s Port Authority aide, David Wildstein:
Kelly: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
Wildstein: “Got it.”
21. On Sept. 10, as buses were trapped in traffic, Wildstein exchanged gleeful texts with an unknown person:
Person: “Is it wrong that I’m smiling?”
Person: “I feel badly for the kids. I guess.”
Wildstein: “They are the children of Buono voters.”