When we first learned that Governor Christie will be stumping for GOP candidates nationwide, we realized NJN needs to cover it in some fashion. Flying to California and renting equipment was a bit – um, cost prohibitive…so when we saw that Christie would be in Cincinnati this week for Ohio Gubernatorial candidate John Kasich we decided to make the trip.
First, lemme talk a little bit about our journey ( which was really not that interesting so it won’t take up too much space here ). NJN has a satellite truck which can get a live shot onto the evening news from pretty much anywhere in the nation. So, we decided to drive that piece of equipment here to Cincinnati from where I write this blog. Actually, we are staying just across the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky. we drove out through Pennsy on the Turnpike taking us through the Blue Mountain and other tunnels. We passed briefly through West Virgina and ended up in Ohio for the rest of the way. It is a roughly 600 mile trip. So, after the return, Cameraman Bob Wick and I will have traveled the equivalent distance of roughly 1/3 of the continental United States by truck. Ah, the glamorous life of an NJN Reporter.
But here is why this is so newsworthy. For starters Christie is a rising star in the GOP. Not a tea party guy, but an establishment candidate who can win in a blue state. This story has been slightly under-reported in light of the big, out of nowhere victories of Tea Partiers such as Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. Christie is stopping by ten different states for GOP Gubernatorial candidates. He has already hit CA and NM. This week he is in Ohio ( yes, I know I said that already ), and next week he hits four states in two and half days – WI, IA, IL, MI. Next month he will do two events for Tom Corbett in PA, and he will also drop in for Tom Foley in CT and Bob Ehrlich in Maryland ( who wants his old job back ). In most of these cases Christie does a fundraiser and public event. BTW – I am told the fundraiser for Meg Whitman in CA raised $2 million – the largest single fundraiser of her entire campaign so far.
According to the Republican Governor’s Association, the GOP comeback in this country begins with statewide races. It started last year with Christie and Bob McDonnell in VA. There are currently Republican Governors in 24 states but there are 37 Gubernatorial races this year ( 37! ). Not only will that be a barometer for how folks are feeling locally, this is a pretty significant year to win locally since redistricting will take place in 2011 following the 2010 Census results. That of course will control the alignment of power for the next decade.
So, there are a coupla themes here. First, Christie is almost the antithesis of the tea party insurgence. He is a Republican who has broad appeal, and he is limiting his appearances to candidates in states that have recently gone for Democrats but could very well wind up going for Repubs this time around. In addition, the majority of the candidates Christie is parachuting in for are currently ahead in the polls. The exceptions are Meg Whitman in Cali, and the aformentioned Foley of CT and Ehrlich of MD ( Foley appears to be behind by a lot , the others less so ).
A person close to Christie tells me he has gotten requests from literally all over the country but opted to focus instead on these ten ( although more may be added ). He will also do a handful of stops for GOP Congressional candidates in Pennsylvania just across the Delaware River.
So, while our Governor is primarily focused on the local races of Jon Runyan in the 3rd, Kathe Donovan in Bergen County and Tom Goodwin in the special election for Baroni’s old seat, he is carefully choosing some other races where the appeal of a “Jersey Guy” just may make a difference.