The traffic scandal that has engulfed Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may strengthen the prospects of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has always been the default candidate for the GOP establishment and Wall Street.
In November, Politico reported that prominent donors believed that there was a “30 percent chance” Bush would run for the presidency in 2016, and that was “up from closer to zero just a few months ago.”
Reportedly, there was “growing chatter in elite New York financial circles that” Bush would give “more serious consideration” to making a run if “it appears at any point that Christie is not drawing big national appeal beyond the northeast.”
After Christie fired two of his closest aides this week upon revelations that they ordered the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge last year, the odds of Bush getting into the race may get better.
Ken Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot who has backed Christie, said this week that he believed Christie would not have trouble raising money from Wall Street in the so-called “invisible primary,” even after “Bridgegate.” Other prominent Wall Street donors, however, were more lukewarm, with prominent potential donors reportedly indicating that they would take a “wait-and-see” approach. Finance executives on Wall Street said that though “support is not yet wavering for Christie,” it could quickly evaporate if “the scandal is not cleaned up fast.”
Should Christie either look vulnerable or become permanently damaged by the traffic scandal, establishment donors may view him as a loser and look for another candidate to back in 2016 against the candidate who emerges from the conservative/grassroots side of the bracket. And that candidate may well be the one they know best and are most familiar with–Jeb Bush.