Christie, Cuomo, and the Attempted Astorino takedown
When Christie made his remarks about Astorino in Connecticut Monday, the reaction from the Astorino Camp was measured. Through back channels, they reached out to Christie and his people. Their message was simple: “Ok, what’s done is done. Now please fix it.” The response from Camp Christie was, in essence, ready for this…”no.”
Stunning in its arrogance, surprising in it’s defiance. The man who’s job it is to promote Republican candidates for Governor seems to have an inflated sense of his own job security. This is the same guy who caused a minor rebellion on the right when he literally embraced Obama at the height of the 2012 campaign for President, sending a message that “this man Obama has your back.” By now, Christie’s comments have been well reported. And the meeting In Aspen between Astorino and Christie after the fact apparently did not go very well.
Coupla points to draw out on this…first, it’s cosmic timing that Christie, as the head of the RGA, would call Astorino’s candidacy a “lost cause” just two days before the New York Times bombshell about Cuomo and interference with the Moreland Commission. If there was ever a time for Republicans to lend a hand to the Republican candidate in New York, it was this week. Then there is the issue of how the RGA actually distributes its resources in the various races across the country. Christie said “We don’t invest in landslides,” which may be true, except for his own. The RGA spent roughly $1.7 Million on Christie’s “landslide” against Barbara Buono in 2013. A race he more than likely would have won without that money ( he utimately defeated Buono by 22 points ).
Then there are those other races. Last month, Christie campaigned in New Hampshire for gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein, who was down 26 points in the last poll. He has also campaigned ( as one could argue the head of the RGA should ) for Neel Kashkari in California who is down 20. In addition, sources say the RGA is spending more than half a million dollars on ads in New Mexico, even though Republican Governor Susana Martinez is solidly ahead, and more than $800,000 in Iowa where Terry Branstad is up by 15. Going back to 2010, the RGA spent roughly $9 million in Michigan when polls showed Governor Rick Snyder way up. And another $7 million in Massachusetts, even though anyone from Massachusetts would tell you it was unlikely Deval Patrick would lose.
So, like everything, it is a question of resources and spending those dollars wisely. Contrary to the narrative Christie has crafted, he was not ever really an underdog in 2009 against incumbent Jon Corzine in New Jersey. A poll in February of that year showed Christie ahead. The economy in New Jersey had just tanked. The local business community wanted a change, so they came together and pooled resources by funneling money into the RGA in order to elect Christie. No question it was a major victory, but it wasn’t really a Little-engine-that-could scenario either.
Finally, there is the Cuomo-Christie connection. Astorino raised this on Tuesday, suggesting Cuomo may have helped Christie keep a lid on the Bridgegate scandal by remaining quiet and even claiming he knew nothing about it weeks after his handpicked Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye indentified the lane closures on the Fort Lee side of the GWB as a possible violation of law. There are other connections between the two neighboring Governors as well. One of Christie’s top political strategists Mike DuHaime is an Partner at Mercury public affairs. Mike McKeon is also an Partner at Mercury, where he once headed up “Republicans for Cuomo” in 2010. McKeon also helped spearhead a “conversation” with Republicans for Governor Cuomo at the Harvard Club earlier this year.
So, the two Governors, who are known to talk frequently on the phone, do have some connections. After being snubbed by Christie in such a heavy-handed and mean-spirited way, it stands to reason that Astorino will no longer be reluctant to point those out going forward.
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