Chris Christie Can Come Back, Right After He Quits as RGA Chairman

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 22 2014 8:56 AM

Chris Christie Can Come Back, Right After He Quits as RGA Chairman

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Republicans worry this guy could become a fountainhead of trickle-down scandalnomics.

Photo by Paul J. Rrichards/AFP/Getty Images

My latest story looks at one possible way for Chris Christie to win over Republican primary voters—that's why we care about this bridge scandal, right? the next primary?—as his scandal putters on. He can, after four years of mostly warm national media relations, war with the hated liberal media. He's made a fairly gentle slap at the media that try to divide America (he didn't name names), and more tellingly his office put out a lengthy, campaign-style attack on MSNBC after Steve Kornacki broke a new story about alleged Christie bullying.

On CNN last night, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli suggested that Christie quit as head of the Republican Governors Association. It was easy, perhaps, to write that off as the bitterness of a defeated candidate, one for whom Christie never found time to campaign in his close 2013 race.

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But yesterday, when I was talking to Republicans, I heard the same concern, totally independent of personal affinities. Katon Dawson, the former South Carolina GOP chairman, wondered whether Christie's problems could trickle down to governors or candidates. That would be unacceptable.

"To most folks in my profession, it’s governorships we pay attention to," said Dawson. "This all has the potential to affect the RGA and governor's races if it grows any more legs, like it has with the Hoboken mayor. Mark Sanford is a guy who resigned and didn’t want any of his scandal embroiled around the RGA. Now, nobody’s called for that from Christie. But if we’ve got two, three more scandals, that’s the concern I’ve got."

You'd need to see a few more scandals to spur this, because resigning a leadership role—one that Christie fought hard for—would be seen as an admission of guilt.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.