Christie left on out­side look­ing in as Trump fills out pres­i­den­tial cabi­net

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY SETH MCLAUGHLIN

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.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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