With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie still navigating his bridge over troubled waters, could this provide the opening for another Republican contender to woo the big donors and secure the “front runner” mantle? Christie may still emerge unscathed assuming his claims of being out of the loop continue to be upheld but some of the GOP bigwigs are getting nervous.

Report from The Atlantic:

If Chris Christie was ever the frontrunner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, he isn’t anymore. All along, the theory behind his candidacy was that he could overcome his lack of conservative bona fides with a combination of personality, competence, electability, and money. Bridgegate undermines all four.

So if Christie is no longer the candidate to beat in the 2016 Republican race, who is? Believe it or not, it’s Rand Paul.

To understand the Kentucky senator’s hidden strength, it’s worth remembering this basic fact about the modern GOP: It almost never nominates first-time candidates. Since 1980, George W. Bush is the only first-timer to win a Republican nomination. And since Bush used the political network his father built, he enjoyed many of the benefits of someone who had run before. It’s the same with Paul. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, he begins with an unparalleled infrastructure left over from his father Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

Rand Paul is not without baggage, perhaps specifically his lack of experience at the executive level, but he does bring some nuance that can unify the socially conservative and pseudo-libertarian wings of the Republican Party.

This assumes the writer’s assertion is true that Ron Paul’s supporters and volunteers will lend similar efforts to his son, despite their differences on some key libertarian issues. If that isn’t the case, Rand is no better off than someone like Ted Cruz with no prior organizational infrastructure in the early primary states.