Christie Won’t Help Cory Booker’s GOP Opponent in Senate Campaign

New Jersey governor’s allies say he will offer an endorsement, but no campaign appearances or fundraising help.

National Journal
Kevin Brennan
Add to Briefcase
Kevin Brennan
Aug. 13, 2013, 4:55 p.m.

New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie finds him­self in an awk­ward situ­ation as he mulls wheth­er to of­fer any sup­port to his party’s tea-party Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate nom­in­ee, Steve Loneg­an, against his Demo­crat­ic friend and off-and-on polit­ic­al ally, Cory Book­er.

Loneg­an, who cruised to vic­tory in Tues­day’s Re­pub­lic­an primary, has a frosty re­la­tion­ship with Christie, dat­ing back to his primary chal­lenge to the gov­ernor in the 2009 cam­paign. Just this week, Loneg­an earned a pub­lic scold­ing from Christie for his cam­paign’s ra­cially tinged tweet at­tack­ing Book­er. “This is a gov­ernor who calls it like he sees it,” said a source close to Christie. “When Steve Loneg­an says something and re­port­ers want the gov­ernor’s re­ac­tion, he’ll tell people what he thinks.”

But if Christie fails to sup­port his fel­low Re­pub­lic­an in the Sen­ate race, he could take blow­back from con­ser­vat­ives, already an­noyed by his re­la­tion­ship with Pres­id­ent Obama on hur­ricane re­cov­ery and his lack of in­terest in help­ing the party con­test the va­cant Sen­ate seat.

Christie al­lies ex­pect the gov­ernor to of­fer Loneg­an a form­al en­dorse­ment, but don’t ex­pect the gov­ernor to lift a fin­ger to cam­paign or raise money for his party’s nom­in­ee or lend him sup­port in his long-shot cam­paign against Book­er in the Oc­to­ber spe­cial elec­tion. “It doesn’t seem like that’s something he would in­vest in,” said one mem­ber of Christie’s in­ner circle. “Re­sources are lim­ited.”

For their part, Loneg­an’s team doesn’t seem to ex­pect much from the state’s most pop­u­lar Re­pub­lic­an in dec­ades. “They’re run­ning their race and they have their is­sues. We’re run­ning our race and we have our is­sues, and they’re just totally dif­fer­ent,” Loneg­an aide Rick Shaf­tan said. “Steve has to make the case for his own cam­paign.”

Christie could have oth­er reas­ons for keep­ing his dis­tance. There’s no love lost between the two Re­pub­lic­ans: Dur­ing their 2009 primary fight, Loneg­an ac­cused Christie of “vap­id double-talk” and vowed to “blow Chris Christie off the stage” in de­bates. While Loneg­an sup­por­ted Christie’s gen­er­al-elec­tion cam­paign against Demo­crat­ic Gov. Jon Corz­ine later that year, he has nev­er em­braced Christie in the way that most Garden State Re­pub­lic­ans have.

Christie’s camp doesn’t want to al­low Loneg­an — or any­thing else — to com­plic­ate his goal of notch­ing an his­tor­ic reelec­tion win in Novem­ber. Christie leads state Sen. Bar­bara Buono, his strug­gling Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ent, by more than 25 points in the latest pub­lic polls. While both sides ex­pect the race to tight­en as Elec­tion Day draws closer, a re­sound­ing vic­tory could bol­ster what prom­ises to be his main selling point to Re­pub­lic­ans in 2016: the abil­ity to ex­pand the pres­id­en­tial map in­to tra­di­tion­ally Demo­crat­ic states.

“At the end of the day, Chris Christie is most con­cerned with his own mar­gin of er­ror,” Mon­mouth Uni­versity Polling In­sti­tute Dir­ect­or Patrick Mur­ray said. “His primary strategy is to keep push­ing this im­age of the only guy who can win a blue state and there­fore can win the White House.”

But that de­sire for a land­slide reelec­tion isn’t the only way the Sen­ate race factors in­to the 2016 cal­cu­lus for Christie. He already angered some in the party with his de­cision to sched­ule the spe­cial elec­tion in Oc­to­ber, and his re­cent dus­tup with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., un­der­scored that Christie faces chal­lenges win­ning over the party’s act­iv­ist base. If Christie jumps in­to the pres­id­en­tial race, con­ser­vat­ive primary op­pon­ents may con­trast his lim­ited role in Loneg­an’s Sen­ate bid to his re­la­tion­ship with Book­er, one of the most high-pro­file Demo­crats in the coun­try. Christie’s al­lies ar­gue that an en­dorse­ment of Loneg­an will for­ti­fy him from such cri­ti­cism, and they point to his abil­ity to get along with Book­er as rare evid­ence of ci­vil­ity in today’s par­tis­an polit­ic­al world.

What We're Following See More »
INCLUDES WAIVER FOR MATTIS
Congress Releases Stopgap Funding Bill
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Congressional negotiators released a stopgap spending bill Tuesday night to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday and to fund federal agencies and programs through April 28." The 70-page continuing resolution includes $170 million to aid Flint, Michigan's water supply, and a waiver that would allow Ret. Gen. James Mattis to assume the role of secretary of Defense.

Source:
INTERSTATE COMPACT GAINING TRACTION
Democrats Explore Electoral College Changes
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"A number of Capitol Hill Democrats have revived proposals to reform or abolish the Electoral College," chief among Michigan's John Conyers, who "held a panel on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss options for eliminating the Electoral College and replacing it with a system where a national popular vote elects the president. ... The plan with the most support to reform the election college at the panel was the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a proposal first developed in 2001 that would give the national popular vote winner the majority of electoral college votes through an agreement between the states."

Source:
EFFORT LIKELY TO DIE IN COMMITTEE
Jordan Can’t Force a Floor Vote on Impeaching Koskinen
15 hours ago
THE LATEST
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan attempted to force a floor vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, but "the House voted overwhelmingly to refer it to the Judiciary Committee. ... The committee will not be required to take up the resolution." Earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi "made a motion to table the resolution, which the House voted against by a 180-235 margin, mostly along party lines."
Source:
AFTER THE VOTE FOR SPEAKER
Ryan: No Committee Assignments Until New Year
20 hours ago
THE DETAILS

House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.

Source:
EXPECTED TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH SPRING
Funding Bill To Be Released Tuesday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login