(CNN) – Chris Christie may not have the blessing of his longtime mentor should he decide to run for president in 2016.
Tom Kean, former Republican governor and a staple in New Jersey politics, told author Ryan Lizza he's not sure he'd back Christie if he decides to jump into the 2016 race - a dramatic statement coming from the man who helped Christie get his start in politics.
Lizza gave CNN's John King on "Inside Politics" a preview of an extensive new profile of the New Jersey governor, set to publish in The New Yorker on Sunday evening.
"When Chris Christie was 14 years old, he went and knocked on this guy's door and said, 'I want to learn how to be in politics.' And Tom Kean taught him how to do it," Lizza said Sunday. "He helped him become U.S. attorney. He was the first person to endorse him when he ran for governor in 2009, probably the most important person in his political life."
Lizza said Kean offered the statement unsolicited and said he's got his eye on other potential 2016 GOP candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Christie is considering launching a bid in the coming presidential election, but his popularity has plummeted since January, when a scandal enveloped his administration
Garden State lawmakers and the U.S. attorney's office are looking into allegations that top Christie appointees orchestrated traffic jams last September by closing access lanes to the nation's busiest bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to politically punish that town's mayor for not endorsing the governor's 2013 re-election campaign.
Christie has denied knowing anything about the gridlock until after it occurred, and has said he knew nothing about any political mischief by members of his administration. Last week a review commissioned by Christie's administration cleared the New Jersey governor of any wrongdoing in the bridge controversy, which has put a cloud over his political future.
"Tom Kean also talked about the bigger problem for Christie is not necessarily Bridgegate or the legal inquiry, but the culture of intimidation, is what Tom Kean called it, that has been sort of suggested by Bridgegate," Lizza said, adding that there's a back story to the Christie-Kean relationship, involving the former governor's son, a state senator in New Jersey.
“Kean told me, he tried to take out my son. And that's the back story to this split,” he said.
CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.