Christie Closer to Candidacy?

Chris Christie

Chris Christie: Image courtesy of Leadership Matters for America

Christie Closer to Candidacy?
| published January 28, 2015 |

By R. Alan Clanton
Thursday Revieweditor

In a Republican field already crowded with potential major candidates, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has formed a political action committee (PAC), which will enable him to begin immediately raising cash from donors and deploying that money toward political purposes—the first of several key steps viewed as indicative of his intention to seek the Presidency in 2016.

The launch of his PAC, called Leadership Matters for America, is widely viewed as tantamount to making his campaign official, though not necessarily an irreversible step. Christie joins former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in such a move; Bush formed his own PAC, Right to Rise, at the end of December—only days after he severed his business partnerships and stepped down from several directorships and boards.

Mitt Romney may also be only days away from making his candidacy—his third in seven years—official. After a year of denying that he was considering another run for the White House, Romney began dropping hints in mid-January that he was giving the matter careful scrutiny. Romney has been making more frequent public appearances and has stepped up meetings with both political advisors and potential contributors.  And in appearances in several states in recent days, the former Massachusetts Governor said he is giving serious thought to running again.

Christie has been widely watched as a potential top-tier candidate for 2016. Christie was given a prime speaking slot during the Republican National Convention of 2012, and his energetic address to the delegates and the television audiences was widely regarded as indicative of his intention to seek the Presidency in 2016.

But Christie faced setbacks a year ago when the so-called Bridgegate scandal burst onto the national scene. Christie was accused by some of orchestrating—or at best facilitating—lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, the busy link which connects Fort Lee, New Jersey with New York City. The lane closures caused massive traffic jams for four days. Top Christie staffers are alleged to have ordered the lane closures as political payback and retribution against Fort Lee’s mayor, who did not support Christie’s re-election campaign. Christie was later cleared of any wrongdoing by multiple investigations—including a major inquiry by the New Jersey legislature which did not find him guilty of any wrongdoing. One Federal probe remains open.

Christie has spent the last year crisscrossing the country in his role as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, and those travels have given him ample opportunity to further build upon his extensive network and develop bonds with GOP candidates in all 50 states. Christie has also made frequent visits to Iowa and New Hampshire—key early primary and caucus states where candidacies can sometimes be made or broken.

Christie officially filed the paperwork—as required by the Federal Elections Commission—on Friday, January 23. Christie has also secured the full-time assistance of potential campaign staffers, including former finance chair of the GOP, Ray Washburne, and Phil Cox, who was at one time the executive director of the Republican Governor’s Association. In addition, Christie has deployed full time staff to both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Besides Christie, Bush and Romney—all of whom have been in the news lately for the steps they have taken toward full-scale candidacies—at least 10 other popular Republicans have been discussed as possible candidates, including U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Texas Representative Ted Cruz. Paul Ryan, who was Mitt Romney’s 2012 running-mate and someone frequently mentioned as a potential GOP candidate, recently said he did not intend to seek the presidency in 2016.  Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, is also forming a PAC, and has been stepping up his appearances around the country, including a major speech at a Republican forum in Iowa this past weekend.

Former U.S. Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the presumed front-runner among Democrats.  U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren says she is not running in 2016; Vice-President Joe Biden has offered hints that he is considering running.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Will Income Inequality Become a Major GOP Theme?; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; January 26, 2015.

Romney Considering 2016 Bid?; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; January 11, 2015.