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Chris Christie's State of the State address dogged by ongoing 'bridgegate' scandal

The widening political trouble is threatening to undermine his second term and a possible 2016 presidential run.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR Chris Christie has  apologised again, saying his administration “let down the people we are entrusted to serve” but that it doesn’t define his team or the state.

On the eve of his second term, the governor opened his annual State of the State address by touching only briefly on the issue before moving on to take credit for the state’s improving economy.

The widening political scandal is threatening to undermine his second term and a possible 2016 presidential run.

“The last week has certainly tested this administration,” he told lawmakers and others gathered at the state house. “Mistakes were clearly made. And as a result, we let down the people we are entrusted to serve. I know our citizens deserve better.”

(Youtube / GovChristie)

The scandal broke wide open last week with the release of documents showing the involvement of Christie aides and appointees in apparently politically orchestrated traffic lane closings in September that caused massive gridlock. He has fired one close aide and others on his team have resigned.

Christie first apologised last week during a nearly two-hour news conference, saying he was blindsided by his staff’s involvement. Christie has denied any knowledge in the planning or execution of the plot, and there is no evidence linking him to it.

A popular figure in the Republican Party, Christie won re-election by 22 points in November after earning high marks from New Jerseyans for his handling of the state’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy, and his stock had been rising as a potential candidate for president in 2016.

Now, he is hoping his State of the State address will help him rebound from the apparent political payback scheme that could damage his second term and cut short any ambitions to run for president.

In addition to discussing the economy, he was also to propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day, though details will be left for another day, according to prepared remarks provided by the governor’s office.

Christie is set to be inaugurated for a second term next Tuesday.

Read: Chris Christie ‘embarrassed’ that aide organised traffic jams as punishment >

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Associated Press

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