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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, once an apparent front runner in 2016, has been exonerated by a federal investigation into the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September of 2013. Christie had been under investigation seeking to determine whether he was aware of the closing or authorized them as a means to exact revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who refused to endorse Christie’s re-election.

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Report from the Washington Post:

Influential Republicans in early presidential primary states believe New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is poised to once again become a frontrunner for the party’s 2016 nomination, following a news report that federal scrutiny of a bridge-closing scandal has not implicated him.

“If he had been found in the wrong, he would have been irreparably damaged,” said Matt Moore, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. “This is hugely helpful.”

Not having the episode “hanging over his head puts him back where he started from,” said Chuck Laudner, an Iowa-based strategist for former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign. “He’s still a rock star and a compelling guy, even if he is too moderate for some conservatives. We’re glad he’s on our team.”

WNBC, the NBC affiliate in New York City, reported Thursday that a federal investigation into politically-motivated lane closures last year on the George Washington Bridge has yielded no link to Christie.

The nine-month inquiry has “thus far uncovered no evidence indicating that he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the span,” according to the report.

This is good news for Christie given that his 2016 aspirations tumbled significantly following these allegations earlier this year. The other parties watching this news might include Jeb Bush and, possibly, Mitt Romney. Both gentlemen were potentially looking at a 2016 run which made sense as the moderate Republican position was seemingly vacated by Christie when the bridge scandal broke.

Still, this doesn’t erase the other hurdles Christie will have in a 2016 Republican primary. He’s still quite in favor of new restrictions on firearms, something that will not help him in a field of mostly pro-gun candidates amid a pro-gun electorate. Christie has also been generally more moderate given his status as a Republican Governor in a blue state such as New Jersey.

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