Unable to capture the same magic he had prior to the 2012 cycle, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been stumbling into a potential 2016 bid with unimpressive results. Just a few weeks ago, I counted him clinging to the top tier given his establishment backing, however, it now appears some of his supporters are jumping ship.
Report from Fox News:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s would-be campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination is losing support in his own backyard, according to published reports.
The Washington Post reported late Thursday that some of New Jersey’s most prominent Republicans are either keeping their distance from Christie or turning their attentions to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The paper reports that Bush has been working to win over non-committal New York and New Jersey-based GOP power brokers since at least last month, when he held a private dinner for them in New York. Among those who attended was New Jersey state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, who chaired Christie’s successful 2009 gubernatorial campaign.
Another prominent onetime Christie donor, Johnson & Johnson heir and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, attended a Chicago fundraising event for Bush’s political committees earlier this week. The Post also reports that a number of New Jersey donors are planning an event in March or April to demonstrate the strength of Bush’s support in the Garden State.
The establishment candidates are thought to have an advantage in the money race with an ability to out-last any grassroots challengers who can’t bring in the big donors. Without a solid financial backing, Christie will not be able to compete against Jeb Bush, or anyone else for that matter.
The New York Times reports that the root of the discontent among some former Christie backers is his reluctance to pursue support the way Bush and other would-be GOP contenders have done. The paper, citing friends of the governor, reports that his nascent political organization is understaffed and he is reluctant to delegate authority. The Times reports that some other supporters have blamed Christie’s gubernatorial advisers, saying that they have not prepared him to run a full-fledged national campaign.
According to the Post, some supporters also say Christie committed a self-inflicted error earlier this month when he made remarks about childhood vaccinations during a trip to England meant to promote New Jersey’s economy. Christie’s statement that “parents need to have some measure of choice” was widely criticized and forced the governor to issue a statement and make phone calls reasserting that he does support vaccinations for diseases like measles.
I don’t think it’s the vaccine comment that has sunk Christie’s early support. I think many of his backers are seeing Jeb Bush’s smoother, less confrontational delivery, and would prefer that to Christie’s “in-your-face” type of politics.
Christie was literally on top of the political world entering the 2012 election cycle with his re-election as governor in 2013. Since that time, his approval has fallen drastically in New Jersey which is not entirely uncommon for fairly popular governors who start eyeing a White House run.
At this point, Christie is bumped to the second tier as we watch others like Scott Walker, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio begin to move up on the Republican side.