Establishment Republicans are still seeing the upside to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, despite the many scandals that came to Trenton in 2014. Almost two months removed from the initial Bridgegate revelations, Christie is appearing at a Republican Governors Association fundraiser with Mitt Romney.
According to the Washington Post, Romney is confirmed to be in town for the event both as a guest for the fundraising event, which is scheduled for Thursday, and a speaker. He is expected to deliver remarks to the attendees and later “huddle” with donors and politicians attending the event. The Massachusetts trip is the first in the second series of tours for Christie as head of the Republican Governors Association this year, the first taking him to Florida, Illinois, and Texas. This time around, he is expected to travel to Utah, Georgia, Connecticut, and Michigan, according to Politico.
Christie’s first round of RGA fundraiser voyages raised questions about his suitability to run the organization, whose purpose is to elect and reelect Republicans to the governorships of the nation. Deep in the throes of the George Washington Bridge scandal, Christie told the leaders of the party that everything was under control, but faced several roadblocks on his voyages outside of New Jersey. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott was not seen in public with Christie while he attended a private fundraiser, nor did photos surface. In Texas, both Governor Rick Perry and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott avoided Christie by traveling out of Austin just in time to miss the chairman’s visit. In Illinois, all four Republican gubernatorial candidates abstained from meeting with or attending any events with Christie. At the time, both sides of the political spectrum, from former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to the left-leaning New Jersey newspaper the Star-Ledger, were calling Christie damaged goods.
Despite the fact that Romney’s political career is most likely behind him, giving him the least to lose of any prominent Republican, that Romney is choosing to be seen alongside Christie is a positive sign for Christie’s stature within the Republican establishment. Christie was long rumored to be on the short list of potential vice presidential running mates for Romney; it later surfaced that Christie’s “disturbing” lobbyist past may have had something to do with Romney’s choosing Congressman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) instead. When that story surfaced, however, Romney continued to praise Christie as a “strong leader” who could “save our party.”
Hearings on the George Washington Bridge scandal, in which Christie senior staffers were caught plotting a massive traffic jam for political retribution, were initially scheduled for the end of February, but objections to subpoenas from some of the most prominent characters in the case and permitted extensions on responses to the subpoenas have extended the process.