By Brenda Flanagan
Gov. Chris Christie held his own news conference at nearly the same time his lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, announced her running mate for the November gubernatorial election. Just back from a trip to the Republican Governors Association, Christie wouldn’t say specifically whether the RGA would commit any money to Guadagno’s campaign for governor.
“The reason why it’s the best political organization in the country, and the most successful one, is that they make decisions on expenditure of resources based on one — and only one — criteria: can you win? That’s it. If a race is competitive, they invest in it. If a race isn’t, they won’t,” Christie said.
Christie should know. He raised $102 million as the RGA’s recent chairman, and he infamously withheld RGA campaign funds from flailing New York GOP candidate Rob Astorino in his doomed run against Andrew Cuomo, saying the RGA “doesn’t invest in lost causes.” Guadagno’s down two-to-one against Democrat Phil Murphy, but Christie discounted those polls.
“Well, I don’t believe the 27-point gap, and we have internal polling at the RGA that shows it’s nowhere near that. Remember, these public polls for the most part now are not even polling likely voters,” Christie said.
Guadagno has qualified for public campaign funds but is reportedly struggling to raise money. The state Election Law Enforcement Commission says it is still reviewing her private donations, while her opponent Murphy has already received almost $1.2 million.
Christie expressed empathy.
“If she’s having any difficulty with that, I’m not surprised. It’s hard. It’s hard to raise money. It’s a lot of work. You’ve got to convince people you’re worth investing in,” he said. “And, if I’m asked for help, I’ll certainly give it. I have not been asked for any help.”
The governor called a press conference to tout a record $1.7 billion in funding for 165 Transportation Trust Fund projects over fiscal year 2017, including pavement preservation in Mercer County. Christie fielded a barrage of Trump questions, including the president’s recent tweet banning transgender people from military service.
“We cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump tweeted.
Conversely, last week, Christie signed two bills protecting transgender equality in education and health care.
“And, I supported both of those bills and signed them, and they’re both law in New Jersey and I don’t have anything more to say other than that,” he said. “My actions speak louder than any other words I could give.”
On the president’s controversial Twitter attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Christie had this to say: “That makes some people uncomfortable, and I understand that. But the fact is, you never have to wonder what Donald Trump’s thinking. He tells you.”
Christie has said the only position he really wanted in the Trump administration was that of attorney general. But, when asked if he would take Jeff Sessions’ job, Christie said, “There’s no opening for AG and there’s no reason to discuss it.”