Rachel Maddow rocked the house tonight with her opening segment on the Chris Christie bridge scandal. It's worth watching this entire 17-minute segment from beginning to end.
If Christie was telling the truth when he said the mayor of Fort Lee wasn't really on his radar, then perhaps the retaliatory action wasn't aimed at the mayor. Maybe it was aimed at someone else.
Her theory has some legs, because the dates on those emails suggest that there must have been something going on other than Christie's election campaign, which is where Rachel looked.
Bridget Kelly sent the email at 7:34 AM on August 13, 2013 saying it was "time for some traffic problems around Fort Lee." What would have prompted her to send that? What was happening in the middle of August (besides endorsements) that would have given rise to this particular form of political retribution.
New Jersey Supreme Court battles were happening. Big battles, battles that have been going on since 2010.
A heated battle over the high court has been unfolding since Christie took office in 2010. The governor campaigned on a promise to tilt the court to the right, but state Democrats say a court dominated by Christie appointees would undermine key decisions that over the decades have ordered New Jersey to provide housing for its poorest residents and funding for urban schools.
The Democratic-controlled state Senate has approved two of Christie's nominees since 2011: Justices Faustino Fernandez-Vina and Anne Patterson. If his two remaining nominees are approved, Christie's appointees would become a majority on the seven-member Supreme Court.
Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna and Superior Court Judge David Bauman — an independent and a Republican, respectively — have been stonewalled by Democrats for more than a year without a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. Democrats have said they want those two seats to remain in Democratic hands.
At the time of the bridge closure, there was an epic battle over judicial appointments that culminated in Christie yanking a Republican nominee after it was clear she would be filibustered. In a press conference, he called Senate Democrats "animals" and said he would not subject his friend the judge to them.
The leader of the filibuster represents Fort Lee.
As Rachel said, perhaps the retribution was aimed at State Senator Loretta Weinberg, who represents Fort Lee and is Christie's primary obstacle to his judicial appointments. Or perhaps it was the mayor's refusal to endorse Christie's bid for re-election.
Frankly, Rachel's theory makes a whole lot more sense to me than this kind of high-handed retribution for lack of an endorsement. What do you think?