At the end of last year, embattled NJ Gov. Chris Christie took control of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), which acts as a kind of super-pac for GOP gubernatorial campaigns. In 2010, a cycle comparable to the upcoming elections, the RGA spent well over $100 million to support GOP campaigns for governor. Governors up for reelection in November have been among the first to defend Christie in his current scandal.
Soon after the Bridge-gate scandal broke, the nation’s Governors met in DC for a regularly scheduled conference of the National Governors Association. Several Republican Governors spoke out in defense of Christie while in DC.
The RGA issued its own statement: “Governor Christie apologized to the people of New Jersey, the people of Fort Lee and to the members of the New Jersey legislature. He made it clear that members of his team exhibited unacceptable conduct and a complete lack of respect for both the role of government and the people he is trusted to serve. He believes that when mistakes are made, you own up to them. That’s what leadership is about. He made it clear he is responsible for what happens under his watch — the good and the bad.”
The RGA also directed the media to Govs. Haley (SC), Scott (FL), Martinez (NM), Corbett (PA) and Branstad (IA) for comment in support of its statement. All give are up for reelection in 2014. All could potentially benefit from campaign support from Christie’s RGA.
The book has not been closed on Bridge-gate. The state Legislature and the US Attorney are investigating the details of the bridge closing. The staff whose involvement has been identified have been long-time staffers for Christie. It is possible there were other instances of political bullying in Christie’s tenure, even if he had no knowledge of the events.
Gov. Christie will dictate how more than $100 million is spent in November to support Republican Governors. Donors may want assurances that spending decisions are based on merit and not political favoritism.