New Jerseyans smiled when Gov. Christie said he wanted to flit to Washington to help Donald Trump put his White House together, but frowned when it was announced Friday that Vice President-elect Mike Pence would lead the transition.
The state has good reason to want Christie gone. Convictions in the "Bridgegate" trial reminded residents why 80 percent believe Christie is unfit for office. The trial put on public display Christie's New Jersey, which is a place where aides conspired to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for not endorsing the Republican governor's reelection.
Their plan caused gridlock near the George Washington Bridge in 2013. It didn't matter that emergency vehicles had trouble getting to the bridge or that New York-area commuters missed appointments.
Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, his top appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were found guilty of conspiracy, misusing government resources, and other charges earlier this month. Christie wasn't in the courtroom, but his administration was on trial. He should have been too.
In Christie's dystopia, the governor throws a water bottle at an aide and his press secretary threatens to beat a journalist with a lead pipe. That same governor, surrounded by hulking body guards, threatens a man on a boardwalk; vilifies teachers; and shouts down anyone who dares to complain that four years after Hurricane Sandy their homes haven't been repaired.
Christie's realm is where a sheepish Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno disagreed publicly with her boss only to have his office shoot back with a derogatory statement, as it did last month. What was the matter? Didn't Christie have a water bottle to throw at her?
The trial also exposed Christie's disgusting lack of respect for 9/11 victims. He gave political supporters pieces of steel from the felled Twin Towers, which served as a tomb for hundreds of people killed by terrorists. It was at a 9/11 memorial service that Christie's minions said they bragged to him about the bridge stunt.
Christie's inner circle has been compared to the TV mobsters on The Sopranos, but they're worse because they're real. The leader of the thug wannabes bred an environment of fear and intimidation. He bullied enemies and leaned on subordinates. He treated himself like a king, even taking a state helicopter on the public's dime to get to his child's baseball game.
Christie used public funds to pay for security as he traveled the nation so he could run for president, an ambition Republican primary voters thankfully rejected. Now, Christie is playing toady to Trump because he has nowhere else to go.
One thing that both the prosecution and defense agreed on in the Bridgegate trial was Christie likely lied about his role in the sadistic prank. But his worst lies were telling New Jersey residents he could fix the state's sagging economy and leaky budget. Instead, he made matters worse.
Taking a lesser role on Trump's transition team may mean Christie will have less influence, unless he is given a higher post, which would be bad. The rest of America should fear the damage he could do to their part of the country if Trump gives him the chance.