If Republican governors win big on Tuesday, expect New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the head of the Republican Governors Association, to take some credit as he eyes a presidential run in 2016.
Christie has demonstrated his willingness to work hard. He’s stumped for Republican candidates in 37 states and crisscrossed the country for fundraisers and political events on their behalf.
While potential Republican 2016 candidates such as Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz have been campaigning and raising money for senate candidates, Christie is uniquely focused on boosting Republican candidates for governor.
Today, Christie will visit five states beginning with an 8:15 a.m. campaign event in Rhode Island and ending with a 7:30 p.m. rally in Maine. That caps a whirlwind tour of 19 different states in five days — from Arizona and New Mexico to Wisconsin, Colorado, and Connecticut.
The potential payoff could come in 2016.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Christie’s trips are funded by the Republican Governors Association. It has spent more than $1.2 million on charter flights. That investment appears to be paying off, as the RGA has raised a record $102 million under Christie’s leadership.
Christie’s campaign travel has conveniently crossed important Republican primary states, such as Iowa, Florida, South Carolina, and New Hampshire.
Judging by his schedule, Christie is not only prepared for a rigorous campaign, he appears to enjoy it.
Christie’s political strategist Mike DuHaime told Breitbart News that the New Jersey governor was received “very, very well” during campaign rallies across the country and that candidates for governor were willing to campaign with him.
He pointed to a “great reception” in South Carolina during an event for Gov. Nikki Haley on Sunday and in deep red states including Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama and Idaho.
Christie has also campaigned with conservative superstars such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Sam Brownback of Kansas, who are facing close elections.
Gov. Scott Walker was also willing to appear with the New Jersey governor. He told reporters that he “wasn’t going to say no” after Christie volunteered. Later, Walker specified that Christie was a “good friend” and “the only person I’m campaigning with this week who’s not from Wisconsin.”
Christie has positioned himself to reap the rewards if both Brownback and Walker stay in office, but he has also visibly campaigned for Republican challengers of sitting Democratic governors.
If former Rep. Bob Beauprez wins the governor’s race in Colorado, expect him to give some credit to Christie, who has visited the state multiple times on his behalf.
Christie also stands to benefit somewhat if Republicans take governorships in competitive blue states, such as Connecticut or Illinois.
He has also campaigned heavily for Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is tied against now-Democratic challenger Charlie Crist.
The idea of a Republican Senate is generating more headlines, but Christie appears happy to focus on the success of Republican governors — for good reason.
In Christie’s mind, it’s obvious that U.S. senators are about as effective at governing as President Obama has been.
Christie is following previous RGA chairs who used their leadership position to catapult their presidential run.
The political advantage, however, isn’t certain.
Mitt Romney used his RGA chairmanship in 2006 to preface his run for president in 2008. In spite of Romney’s access to fundraisers and a network of governors around the country, Sen. John McCain beat Romney for the Republican nomination in 2008.
Texas Governor Rick Perry was the leader of the RGA in 2008 and 2011, but he didn’t cross the finish line for the Republican nomination during his run for president in 2012.
As Christie’s campaign tour comes to a close, he probably has a better idea about whether or not he is ready to run for president – and a better understanding of how Republicans around the nation will respond to his candidacy, should he decide to run.
Christie already has a full sample of what a presidential campaign will be like after facing the media buzzsaw that follows presidential hopefuls.
The New Jersey Ebola quarantine rules and the subsequent face-off with President Obama generated controversy from all sides of the political debate.
Cable talking heads echoed the Obama administration’s complaints that Christie’s behavior wasn’t “based on science” even though several other states imitated his policy.
Subsequent polling, however, showed that 80 percent of voters favored his quarantine policy in spite of the mainstream media’s negative reaction to the idea.
He also earned negative reactions from the media for shouting down a another partisan protester, while highlighting the state’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy. “Sit down and shut up!” he yelled, prompting multiple media figures to give critical assessments of his temperament.
In reaction to Paul’s comments, Christie supporters quietly circulated clips of Ronald Reagan shouting down protesters – suggesting that the New Jersey Governor was in the right company.
So will Chris Christie run for president in 2016?
But until then, he has remained focused on the task at hand and is positioned to reap the political benefits should Republicans experience gubernatorial victories on Election Day.