Christie Downplays New York Rivalry in Bridgegate

The George Washington Bridge. (Photo: John Moore/Getty)

The George Washington Bridge. (Photo: John Moore/Getty)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has 99 problems but New York’s governor ain’t one.

In an extensive press conference today about his ongoing George Washington Bridge scandal–where one of his appointments to the bi-state Port Authority agency appears to have ordered massive lane closures as an act of petty political retribution–Mr. Christie dismissed the appointee’s apparent beef with New York as nothing out of the ordinary.

According to emails unearthed yesterday, the appointee, David Wildstein, suggested that he asked David Samson, Mr. Christie’s handpicked chairman of the agency, to retaliate for reopening lanes on the bridge that had been closed for the allegedly bogus traffic study. “The New York side gave Fort Lee back all three lanes this morning,” read the Wildstein email. “We are appropriately going nuts. Samson helping us to retaliate.”

But Mr. Christie, a Republican, stressed that there will always be natural tensions in bi-state agencies like the Port Authority, and insisted that he and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who are both eyed as potential White House candidates, get along very well.

“Certainly not that I’m aware of–or not out of the normal,” Mr. Christie said when asked about evidence of a rivalry between the two sides.

“Let’s remember something too: This is a bi-state agency with significant tension all the time. Now, there’s no tension between Gov. Cuomo and I–we get along quite well and when issues rise to our level, we’ve always been able to resolve them. But there is tension and always has been between New York and New Jersey on the allocation of resources at the Port Authority,” he added.

“And so let me be clear: There’s some battles over there that go on that have happened in every administration over the course of my memory. But … that’s kind of the ongoing nature of the tension at that agency,” he continued. The Port Authority is responsible for much of the infrastructure in the region, including bridges, tunnels and airports.

A Cuomo spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Mr. Cuomo is content with the current operations of the Port Authority in light of the scandal.