The “long-simmering tension” between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Texas Governor Rick Perry is finally coming to a head, reports CNN’s Peter Hamby, as the head of the Republican Governors Association gets the cold shoulder on his visit to Dallas this week.
“They just don’t like each other,” one Republican insider told Hamby, suggesting that Perry’s absence from a number of events Christie attended in his role as RGA chairman in Texas this weekend might not have been exclusively due to BridgeGate. Christie visited the state, though not in a public capacity, to meet with Republican leaders and raise funds but found himself abandoned by Perry and likely successor Greg Abbott. Abbott, the Texas Attorney General currently running against scandal-ridden Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis for governor, noted that he had an event on immigration in Houston and could not meet with Governor Christie.
The move was seen by Democrats and national Republicans alike as a calculated one to stay away from the clouds surrounding Christie–understandable given the effort Abbott has put into staying away from the scandal engulfing the Davis campaign.
In Perry’s case, Hamby argues that avoiding Christie has more to do with personal animosity than political expediency. According to those with whom Hamby spoke, Perry and his allies see Christie as “pompous and disrespectful,” while Christie’s camp has a hard time taking Perry seriously. Christie had privately been open about not supporting Perry as a presidential candidate in 2012, telling donors they were better off avoiding the Texas governor. Christie ultimately supported Mitt Romney, after a process Perry insiders called “imperial” in which he requested GOP candidates to visit him in Trenton and discuss issues one-on-one before he felt comfortable endorsing.
While the tensions may have begun in 2012, Christie’s rise to prominence since, Hamby notes, has only exacerbated the personal problems. Such tensions culminated in Perry appearing on This Week in November immediately after Christie’s decisive reelection to argue that Christie would have problems translating his style and ideology to votes on a national scale. While conceding that Christie was, at the time, a “successful governor of New Jersey,” Perry questioned not only Christie’s conservative values but also asked, “Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?”