January 24th, 2014
01:54 PM ET
8 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. Lynda/Minnesota

    And how many of these "raising stars" were created by an adoring media pushing the star beyond reality simply to further a media narrative which may not, if fact, equal the character of the so called star being elevated?

    January 24, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. smith

    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 🙂

    January 24, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Rob Ford isn't even an American politician & he's a crackhead. Wendy Davis still has her twinkle regardless of how the MSM tries to portray her. However, McDonnell & Christie are turning into black holes and are going to suck a bunch of "celestial" beings into their black holes.

    January 24, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Chris Christie / Bob McDonnell 2016
    Probe me once , shame on you , Probe me twice shame on me .

    January 24, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. HenryMiller

    Basically all politicians are jerks. It's just that some are bright enough not to get caught.

    January 24, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Wendy Davis IS a rising star , the crooked GOP establishment is scared to death of her upsetting the apple art of political playoffs to the GOP slugs in Texas , if people are smart in Texas and the rest of the country, people will kick these GOP losers out in 2014.

    January 24, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Trump called it right. Christie is one piece of paper with his name on it from freefall.
    Wendy Davis should be fine. Of course, the right wing is trying to make it sound like a capital crime.
    Bob McDonnell is a victim of his own success. He didn't know how to handle it, and it consumed him.
    Rob Ford. Rob Ford. He wants voters to decide his fate, so let them. They'll probably re-elect him if stays out of trouble.

    January 24, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "Ford swore off drinking. Unfortunately, he didn’t swear off appearing in videos posted on social media."

    If by "unfortunately" you mean "fortunately," then yes, "unfortunately." Dude is a hilariously hot mess.

    January 24, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  9. MTATL67

    Is Wendy Davis accused of breaking the law. Is Wendy Davis under investigation by the Texas AG. To put Davis in with Republican (alleged) criminals is laughable.

    January 24, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    The dude is innocent until proven guilty. Let the judicial process work. If he's found guilty, lock him up. End of story.

    January 24, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  11. guest

    so we have a indicted governor, a governor that has fired several staff and accussed of bullying political opponents and a canadian politician that admitted to smoking crack, and then lumped into that is a congress lady that was a single mother in a trailer park, but just not for as long as the media painted to be the picture. One of these things is not like the other...

    January 24, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine


    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

    Sounds more like bad judgement on teh part of Battleground Texas than Davis. Don't get your hopes up over something an outside group does.

    January 24, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "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"

    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, so everyone should pretend it was directly connected to and sanctioned by the opposing candidate, who thinks exactly the same thing. It's stupid and, as you've probably already noted, it gets no traction anywhere but the GOP/Teatroll propaganda machine over at Faux News.

    January 24, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Winning

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

    January 24, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  15. The REAL Truth...

    @smith – 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.
    Davis is not associated with that group.. so it won't hurt her.. but Abbott's whole story about being injured by a falling tree while out running after a storm strikes me as being very strange. One would have to be completely unaware of ones surroundings to not notice a falling tree coming at you.... then sue the owners and win, then try to prevent future victims of such events from being awarded $10 Million like he was..

    January 24, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  16. tom l

    @Lynda and Fair,

    Wow! Thank you for your thoughtful responses. Perhaps we will see the dawning of a new day on the boards! 🙂

    January 24, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    The dude is innocent until proven guilty. Let the judicial process work. If he's found guilty, lock him up. End of story.
    If you mean Christie, he's painted himself into a corner. Proving his innocence will mean proving his ignorance.

    January 24, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    (hyperbole alert)
    McDonell – illegal gifts – bribery – conservatives not upset
    Cristie – racketeering – conservatives bread and butter
    Davis – "how long the single mother lived in a mobile home" – Oh my God. How could she??? Prison, banishment!!

    January 24, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    tom l. wrote

    Wow! Thank you for your thoughtful responses. Perhaps we will see the dawning of a new day on the boards!
    Let's hope, but your posts cast a shadow of doubt on that possibility.

    " My confusion and where I would like some insight is that I believe liberals absolutely look to govt for solutions to almost everything."

    I don't know whether or not you saw my message to you on this very topic yesterday, but it sounds like you did not. When your opening remarks are so barbed with thorns, don't play the victim when the replies are laden with spears. Thinks were actually quite civil around here before you showed up, tom. Sure, we had the occasional "Rick McDaniel" and others who spread nothing except hate, but your attacks crossed a line that people like me found distasteful, offensive, and laden with stereotypical ignorance. See above quote.

    January 24, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    Oh, the Wendy Davis video came from James O'Keefe, the man who bugged the office phones of Mary Landrieu and then tried to seduce a CNN reporter in order to destroy her credibility? Wow. How any sensible person, liberal or conservative, believe anything that con artist and liar produces? Heavily edited videos do nothing to advance a real argument, except inflame the weak-minded to your side.

    January 24, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. tom l

    My comment about not lowering myself was in response to your "I just had lunch" retort. As far as your other response is concerned, I am more that aware that you, DMFO, Dutch, Tampa and some of the others laugh at my comments. That doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is that you would make that comment and that you're not aware that conservatives laugh at you all the time and your comments. As far as the "lens" that you speak of, let me give you some background on me that might give you perspective. I grew up and lived 40 years in Los Angeles and when I reunited with all of my friends from high school again after college at UC Irvine (Go Anteaters!) I found myself to be the only republican (at the time I was in full support of the repub party) amongst all of my friends who were all liberal democrats. We had many many discussions that were interesting and challenging but what was very rewarding was that I was able to understand their point of view. In fact, one reason I am now pro-choice is because of those conversations and truly understanding why they felt the way they do. I have worked for over 20 years in different industries...I was a series 7 licensed broker, I was a branch manager of a bank and I now have worked in advertising sales for 10 years in internet and radio. The point is I have a very qualified opinion that doesn't come from Rush nor Fox News. It comes from my life experiences. It comes from actually listening to different points of view and determining what I felt was most logical and reasonable. That's me. I am fully aware of other "lenses" and other points of view. I have considered them. I have researched them. I disagree.

    I don't think you're dumb for having the opinions you do nor do I think I'm better than you. I feel like from your vantage point you feel the exact opposite and your long response is demonstrative of that. You feel that I am an idiot with no reason nor rationale to feel the way I do and that I listen to Rush all day to get my opinions that I will then spout out. You also feel that you are better than me due to your political beliefs.

    I think it would be a great experience for you to actually listen to what someone like Fair is Fair (whom I admire greatly) or Yolanda or Smith says. I agree that Lynda, rs and the Real TP tend to be much more civil and at least sometimes address my comments rather than just flamethrow to end the debate and discussion. In the past few months, it is palpable how much this has spiraled downhill into anger on both sides. I definitely bear some responsibility for that and in the future will make comments that are constructive that will hopefully illicit debate rather than silly 4th grade retorts. Good luck to you.

    January 24, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. IA

    @ Lynda/ Minnesota...So True....and it just makes politics and politicians slimier than they already are.

    January 24, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Lynda wrote:

    "I wish I could make the same claim, but I have found myself too often on the receiving end of "4th grade" name calling."

    Oh – but Rudy ... you've given as well as received !! I'm only suggesting here that I am an outsider looking in. Both you and Fair is Fair have had some very lively conversations and I do appreciate a good debate when I see one. The two of you are very, very good at what you do.
    Nope. Never have I called someone a name. I will find words to describe what someone wrote, but never name calling. I've posted my opnions about name calling many times. "Once you go there, you've lost the argument." Remember?

    January 24, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  24. wendel

    every time the GOP gets caught with their pants down they attack. Davis is not on the same level as Christy or McDonald. I'm surprised they are not hollering Bengazi or Hillary. NO matter what the scandal that poor woman ends up getting beat up on by the GOP trolls. Or maybe it is all the presidents fault. Either way the repos will not be taking any responsibility .

    January 24, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. rs

    Interesting story- largely any politician that flames out inevitably does so by their own hand. No politician get kicked out of office, or goes to jail because of what someone else does. This isn't a one party thing, it is a politician thing. It is the nature of the beast, and for those who believe they are special or somehow above the law- well, the inevitable occurs.

    January 24, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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