Christie left on outside looking in as Trump fills out presidential cabinet
Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential bid before Ben Carson, Rep. Tom Price and nearly everyone else — but 10 months later, the New Jersey governor is still on the outside looking in as the president-elect fills out his Cabinet.
Mr. Christie hitched his political fortunes to Mr. Trump when he was far from a sure thing — fueling speculation that the New York billionaire would be sure to reward him for his loyalty if given the chance.
But since then, he’s been passed over for vice president, White House chief of staff and attorney general.
He was named the lead of Mr. Trump’s transition team in May, but was ousted just days after the election in favor of Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Mr. Christie’s allies say the two-term governor is interested in serving as the next chairman of the Republican National Committee, if that is where Mr. Trump wants him.
But that could be off the table, according to The New York Times, which reported Thursday that Mr. Trump is no longer considering Mr. Christie for the spot.
“The polls reflect the various issues that hang over his head, and that is why a president-elect would be somewhat skittish,” said Charlie Gerow, a GOP political analyst.
A Quinnipiac University Poll released this week found that 19 percent of New Jersey voters approved of Mr. Christie’s job performance — the lowest marks in the 20-year history of the polling service.
Mr. Christie’s confidantes and others also speculate that his relationship with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has dimmed his star in Trump land.
As a U.S. Attorney, Mr. Christie prosecuted Mr. Kushner’s father, Charles, who was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations.
Mr. Christie emerged as a rising star in the Republican ranks after winning the 2009 governor’s race in what had been considered an arctic blue state, and going on to battle public employees unions over pensions that were gobbling up state revenues.
Voters in New Jersey also gave him high marks for his response to Hurricane Sandy — celebrating his embrace of President Obama and the criticism he directed at GOP leaders over funding for the recovery efforts.
Things went south, though, thanks to the state’s fiscal woes and the 2013 George Washington Bridge scandal, which led to the recent convictions of his former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Mr. Christie was not indicted or charged with wrongdoing in the case, but top aides were convicted, and analysts said the sordid saga has taken its toll.
Christie allies say it made sense for Mr. Trump to oust the governor as transition team leader in favor of Mr. Pence.
But only one other president in modern politics, George W. Bush, turned to his vice president to lead the transition.
Nearly seven in 10 voters in Mr. Christie’s home state now say Mr. Trump should not give him a job in his administration.
And most of the slots that play to Mr. Christie’s strength as a governor and former prosecutor are taken anyway — leaving just the RNC post as a fit.
Phil Cox, who served as executive director to Mr. Christie when he ran the Republican Governors Association, said Mr. Christie has shown he has the ability to be chairman.
“I think as RGA chairman, Gov Christie proved himself to be an effective fundraising and communicator and someone with great politics instinct — the kind of experience that would make a him a natural fit for RNC chair,” Mr. Cox said, alluding to the strong run that Mr. Christie had leading the RGA from 2013 to 2014.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential bid before nearly everyone, but still doesn’t have a role in the president-elect’s administration.