Remember when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was a national political rising star? He was the guy who was appealing enough to independents and even Democrats to get elected and re-elected as governor of a deep blue state. He was the man who spoke like a regular guy, despite being a well-respected legal expert and career prosecutor. He was the guy who put New Jersey first and partisanship second after Hurricane Sandy hit the state and he so warmly welcomed President Barack Obama when he surveyed the damage just days before Election Day.
All of that is destroyed now. The "law and order" aspect of his brand is gone for obvious reasons now. The "he puts New Jersey first" angle is gone, too, considering thousands of Jersey residents were screwed by an unnecessary and enraging traffic jam. And the "straight talking" image was ripped apart months ago when Christie didn't seem to have the best explanations for what happened.
Christie can't resurrect any of that now, and his only future employment will be in the private sector. That may seem harsh at a time when a string of scandals and accusations haven't apparently derailed our current presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But Clinton and Trump never had the law and order/straight talk/put the people first kind of brand that Christie brought to the table.
Christie threw his support behind Donald Trump early — even as other Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan demonstrated a serious reluctance to get on the Trump train. That put Christie in line to possibly be Trump's vice president, or when that didn't pan out, at least attorney general.
That's definitely out of the question now.
Trump has recently struck a chord with his anti-corruption, "drain the swamp" message on the campaign trail. Christie's connection to something that reeks of old fashioned and nasty political corruption makes him toxic for Trump now.
Christie has one more year left in office but could face impeachment before that term is up. Several key members of the New Jersey legislature had already been looking into the option of impeachment before verdict was reached as some of the testimony in the trial seemed to suggest that Christie was aware of the order for the lane closures on the bridge. Christie has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the plan.
If you weren't already discouraged by the nature of this 2016 presidential election, the Bridgegate verdict might have put you over the edge. Political corruption on both sides of the aisle remains at unacceptable levels.
A metaphorical swamp does, indeed, need some draining, but the voters are now left with one fewer person who seemed like he could drain it.
Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.
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