“The first real test of the damage to Chris Christie's chances of being the Republican nominee for president in 2016 from the "Bridgegate" scandal could come during the next few days,” Reuters writes. “Christie is scheduled to attend a $1,000-per-ticket reception for New Jersey Republican House candidate Steve Lonegan on Thursday. He then will head to Florida for a series of weekend events aimed at raising money for Republican Governor Rick Scott's re-election campaign, plus a meeting with wealthy Republican donors from all over the United States. Interviews with a half-dozen Republican strategists, donors and operatives indicate that if Christie is interested in a bid for the White House, as many suspect, he has some work to do.”
USA Today: “More critical to Christie's own political career is likely to be a gathering Sunday at the North Palm Beach home of Ken Langone, the Home Depot founder and major GOP donor who wants Christie to run for president in 2016. Langone says he has invited about 150 potential donors to "meet and greet" Christie in hopes that if he runs they will support him. Though the event has been planned for months, Langone says the guests will likely ask Christie about the politically motivated traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge. ‘I've got to believe one of the questions is … were you involved in this? Did you know anything about it?'’ he said in an interview. ‘Obviously there's a heightened curiosity because of what the media's done with this bridge situation.'”
“In another day of political drama and legal maneuvering, two new legislative committees were formed Thursday to investigate the George Washington Bridge scandal and within hours, 20 subpoenas were issued to 17 key people and three organizations in the unfolding story,” the New Jersey Star-Ledger writes. “The moves in Trenton provided a quick signal that the widening investigation into what role Gov. Chris Christie’s administration may have played in the bridge lane closures.”
The Record: “The subpoenas went out on Thursday evening, after a day of rapid developments in the escalating scandal: the formal creation of two state legislative panels that each have subpoena power and are conducting parallel investigations; the announcement that Christie’s office had hired its own legal counsel; and a preliminary finding by a powerful U.S. senator that there is ‘zero evidence’ the lane closings had a legitimate purpose. Still unknown is what motivated Kelly, who was fired by Christie last week, to send the message, ‘Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,’ to a Christie loyalist at the Port Authority.”
Ken Vogel says many Romney loyalists are taking pleasure in Christie’s current troubles. “Rom-denfreude (noun) — The pleasure Mitt Romney loyalists are taking in the struggles of Chris Christie,” he writes. “The condition is prevalent, stemming from a range of perceived Christie slights towards Romney during the 2012 campaign, which several Romney loyalists ticked off quickly — and with still-evident bitterness.”
MSNBC.com’s Benjy Sarlin: For Chris Christie’s national ambitions, he is going to have to find support in New Hampshire not New Jersey. Republicans officials there said in interviews Thursday they are taking the allegations seriously. The lead editorial in the Union Leader warned: If Christie was not telling the truth, his political career should be finished.