Chris Christie: The $18 million man

Friday, February 21, 2014 - 9:37am

It appears the controversies New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's dealing with back in the Garden State haven't affected his standing as one of the GOP's most potent fundraising rainmakers.

As Christie convenes two days of Republican Governors Association meetings here in the nation's capital Friday and Saturday, an RGA official tells CNN that the group has raised $18 million since Christie took over as RGA chairman in late November. That's a new fundraising record for the first three months of a new RGA chairman's tenure. The previous record holder was then-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barber, who chaired the RGA from June 2009 through the end of 2010.

Christie's chairmanship of the RGA was seen as a possible stepping stone to a potential 2016 bid for the GOP presidential nomination. But six weeks into his tenure as RGA chairman, the bridge controversy went viral. State lawmakers and the U.S. Attorney's Office are looking into allegations that top Christie appointees orchestrated traffic jams last September by closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee to politically punish that town's mayor for not endorsing the governor's re-election.

Christie has denied knowing anything about the gridlock until after it occurred, and has said he knew nothing about any political mischief by members of his administration. He's also facing allegations by the Democratic mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, that members of his administration held Superstorm Sandy recovery funds hostage in exchange for approval of a real estate development project in that city.

The Friday meeting of the RGA executive committee and the wider event Saturday including all the attending Republican governors marks the first time Christie will meet with his peers since the multiple controversies shook his political future.

But the $18 million in RGA fundraising should allay any concerns by any of the other governors.

"Christie remains popular among Republicans, many of whom see the attacks on him as partisan efforts to destroy a popular GOPer. That's why he remains a formidable fundraiser for the RGA and an asset to his party," Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, told CNN.

Republicans are defending 22 of the 36 gubernatorial seats up for grabs this November.


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