New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s selfless surrogacy for Republican gubernatorial candidates ahead of the 2014 midterms may have earned him goodwill among the establishment, but his failure to support one outsider has led to the creation of a political action committee dubbed “Stop Chris Christie” and cries that he be “quarantined” in the Garden State.
Former Colorado Congressman and recent gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo has long been a thorn in the side of the mainstream GOP. After his failure to secure the party’s nomination for governor this election, in part due to the Republican Governors Association's opposition to him, Tancredo announced that he had formed a political action committee called “Stop Chris Christie,” designed to, well… do just that.
“His winning would be disastrous for both the party and the country,” Tancredo said of Christie, who serves as the RGA's chairman and is likely to mount a campaign for the GOP nomination. “What I’d like to do is quarantine Chris Christie to the state of New Jersey so he cannot infect the rest of the country.”
As of Tuesday night, Tancredo is in the minority with such a view.
As chairman of the RGA, Christie traveled across the country to rally for governors—and it paid off. Christie raised a record-setting $106 million and the GOP nabbed 31 gubernatorial victories in a sweep that the RGA’s executive director, Phil Cox, said was due in no small part to Christie himself. ”He certainly raised the bar,“ he told The Star-Ledger. “He said from the start that this was his only political priority this year, [which] was electing and reelecting Republican governors, and the results speak for themselves.” (Christie’s home state, which he frequently traveled away from for his RGA work, it should be noted, is suffering from, among other things, a profound budget shortfall and high unemployment.)
Over the past year, Christie has seen his reputation shattered over claims that he was involved with politically motivated scandals and petty arguments, which have played into the perception of him as a bully. But never mind that—Christie did good for the party on Tuesday, and the RGA seems prepared to give him full credit. He was, Cox said, “instrumental in ensuring that we went from 29 to at least 31 Republican governors. … The role of the RGA chairman is just vitally important.”
Tancredo couldn’t care less.
In Colorado, the establishment GOP candidate advocated for by Christie, Bob Beauprez, was defeated by his Democratic challenger, John Hickenlooper, 49 to 46.
“He came out [to Colorado] and played in the primary,” Tancredo lamented. “We lost one race: Governor. We’re now going to suffer thanks, in large part, to Chris Christie.”
Tancredo’s outlandish statements, particularly regarding immigration—like, Miami is a third-world country and Sonia Sotomayor is a member of the “Latino KKK”––led to fear among the party that were he to win the nomination for Governor in 2014, they would lose.
Likely due to that, Tancredo—who served as the Centennial State’s 6th district Rep. from 1999 to 2009—found himself being attacked indirectly by the RGA, which The Denver Post discovered had donated money to the Republican Attorney General Association, which then funneled money to other sources to support attacks against him.
Tancredo is not shy about the bitterness the attacks caused, and he directs his anger squarely at Christie—though he maintains a sense of humor about it.
“He went to the top of my radar screen,” Tancredo told The Daily Beast. He laughed: “His meddling in my primary created a major blip on my radar—a big, fat blip. I’m definitely more attentive to his actions as a result.”
Tancredo said the RGA’s decision to work against him was due to their past head-butting on immigration. “We’ve had our differences, that’s for darn sure,” he said.
Asked if he had ever met Christie, Tancredo first said, “Uh, yeah? I did. It was uh, at—what?” and then reconsidered. ”You know what? I’m not sure. I’m not positive that I did. No, I don’t think so.” Tancredo said that he would, however, like to meet Christie: “I’d like to debate him.”
Tancredo’s PAC, which he was hesitant to talk about because their website is not yet functioning, will “do what any PAC does. It will depend upon how much money we raise. It will run ads, it will run press releases.” If Christie is traveling, Tancredo said, he hoped that PAC would be able to send him to where he is “for me to go and confront him.”
Tancredo ran for president in 2008 (and eventually threw his support behind Mitt Romney) and acknowledged that the only way he would get the chance to truly debate Christie would be to throw his hat in the ring—something he was adamant he would not do. Instead of Christie, he would like to see Ben Carson get the nomination.
Asked, if Christie is so terrible, why he would want to punish the people of the Garden State with his presence, Tancredo laughed. “They deserve what they get, I guess. He may be the perfect New Jersey governor!”