January 24th, 2014
01:54 PM ET
9 years ago

When rising political stars fall to Earth

(CNN) - Political rock stars in the night sky. Chris Christie is in early retrograde but he could pull out, Wendy Davis twinkles a little less brightly, while the only star associated with Bob McDonnell these days are worn by lawmen trying to put him in jail. And Rob Ford is, well, Rob Ford – a blinding star.

As long as there has been politics, there have been political rock stars tumble to fallen stars at their own hand.

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Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell might have fallen the farthest this week but he’s not alone among the damaged goods.


Four years ago this month, McDonnell was sworn in as governor. Then a few weeks later, he gave the GOP response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address – a plum gig for a rising political star. He had won back the governor’s office from Democrats by double digits in a national battleground state. That was one of two big wins that gave his party a boost. The other was Chris Christie ousting of incumbent Jon Corzine.

But in 2012, questions about the relationship between McDonnell and his wife, Marueen, and donor Jonnie Williams began to bring the governor down. He was a non-presence in Republican campaigns, including that of the GOP candidate who unsuccessfully sought to succeed him. After leaving office this month, the McDonnells were slapped with a 14-count indictment for allegedly accepting illegal gifts from Williams.

He appeared to take the low road as an investigation implicated him – rather than take a plea deal that would spare his wife from public scorn, McDonnell rejected it, basically “throwing her under the bus,” according to a source close to the criminal case. The pair pleaded not guilty to the charges and now face trial.


Chris Christie cultivated the image of a straight-talking tough guy who didn’t suffer fools and was willing to call them out. His swagger helped propel him to the top of early polls for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, if he were to run.

But after accusations that some of his advisers and appointees twisted arms over storm recovery funds and played political dirty tricks on Democrats, he’s being criticized for allowing that “bully” culture to grow in the governor’s office.

Gov. Chris Christie takes oath again, but stormy days lie ahead with scandals

Christie hasn’t been implicated in any of this and some are lumping him in with his 2009 gubernatorial classmate McDonnell as a tarnished brand. But that’s not a fair comparison, CNN contributor Ana Navarro says.

“McDonnell is going to have to face the music. Nobody is coming to his defense. Chris Christie is embattled but he is far from over," she said.


Falling from grace wasn’t limited to the Grand Old Party. For Democrats, Wendy Davis’ story was almost too good to be true. Her compelling tale of a single mother who worked her way through college gave them an ideal candidate to possibly break through in solidly Republican Texas.

But then her story did turn out to be too good to be completely true.

A Dallas newspaper found some discrepancies – that her ex-husband cashed in his 401k to help pay her way through college and how long the single mother lived in a mobile home – minor points, maybe, but enough to give Republicans the chance to question everything.


Where to start with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford? And where will it end?

Despite becoming Canada’s biggest punch line since...Has Canada ever had a national punch line? Oh, yeah – Mike Meyers in “The Love Guru.”

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: 'I had a minor setback'

After lying about his crack cocaine habit, showing up drunk at public events and losing some of the powers of office, Ford swore off drinking. Unfortunately, he didn’t swear off appearing in videos posted on social media.

CNN's John Helton and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Chris Christie • Wendy Davis
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Malory Archer


    Wendy Davis had another setback this week besides her fuzzy life story. Battleground Texas(liberal group) was caught on video making fun of Texas AG Abbott for being in a wheelchair. It seems being disabled in their world is funny. Hi Malory


    How's it going Sweetie? One favor please... could you provide a CREDIBLE link to where I might find the information on that Texas group about whom you've been going on all day? Thanks hon!

    January 24, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Malory Archer


    James O'Keefe's video chop-shop lacks the credibility to really have an impact, particularly when he's just serving up the nonsense argument that a couple of idiots in some activist group said some idiotic stuff


    Are you kidding me – the homely pervert made the video? Seriously???!!! LOL!!!

    January 24, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. Malory Archer


    Why is Wendy David included with these other three? That makes no sense at all.


    False equivalence. If the right didn't have that to fall back on they'd have nothing. Fortunately there are plenty of other posters to call them out on said false equivalence, and no matter how many times the right trots out said false equivalence it'll never be equal.

    January 24, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
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