BOCA RATON, Fla. – If Republicans are going to pick a presidential nominee from outside Washington, chances are the potential candidate is attending this week’s gathering of the Republican Governors Association here.
The meeting is a victory lap of sorts for RGA chairman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who this year oversaw an organization that helped elect seven new Republican governors. Next year, there will be 31 Republican governors – the most since 1998.
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The RGA chairmanship has often served as a launching pad for ambitious politicians: then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ran the group before eventually winning the GOP presidential nomination. But Christie will have plenty of competition wandering the grounds of the sprawling, luxurious Boca Raton Resort and Club. Also attending the meeting are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Ohio Gov. John Kaisch, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence – all named as potential 2016 presidential hopefuls.
Christie is scheduled to participate in a press conference Wednesday. Meanwhile, Pence, Jindal, Perry, Kaisch and Walker will all speak at a Wednesday session called “Republican Governors: The Road Ahead.” The session will be moderated by Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Not expected to attend the session is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has cast something of a shadow over the presidential hopes of many of the current governors who might consider a bid. And absent are members from the party’s congressional wing who are considered contenders, including Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and potentially Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
At the meeting, the governors will select a new chairman for 2015. Walker and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley are said to have passed on chairing the group; a potential pick could be Gov. Bill Haslam, of Tennessee. There are only three governor’s races in 2015, so the chair is viewed as less of a potential prize.
Attendees at the meeting will have plenty of chances to rest and relax, with a fishing trip among the options. The meeting opened on Tuesday night with a reception and dinner at the Boca Beach Club on the Atlantic Ocean.