Former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado is all but throwing in the towel on the political action committee he created to stop New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s potential run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 — but only because he believes the governor has no chance of winning.
Citing Christie’s sagging poll numbers and what he described as the governor’s “questionable” behavior, Tancredo told msnbc, “We have not really tried to raise any money because frankly we assumed it would probably not be worth the time we put into it because now nobody believes the guy has a chance. ” He added, “I don’t think anyone’s going to give money to stop Chris Christie — someone who they believe is probably stopped already.”
Tancredo would not go into detail as to what Christie’s “questionable” behavior entailed.
The Garden State governor has consistently trailed in the polls behind his potential GOP competitors. According to the latest Real Clear Politics average of polling data surrounding the 2016 Republican nomination, Christie is in sixth place with 6.4% support. He trails former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — both tied with 16.6% — in addition to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 10.2% and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky’s 8.4%.
Christie has had a rocky year — trying to lock down donors who are likely also considering fellow moderates like Bush and Walker — in addition to facing economic troubles and a budget debate in his home state. Still, the governor is pushing forward. His allies have created a super PAC, and he has visited early voting states like New Hampshire and Iowa, where he is also beefing up staff.
Christie, however, has dismissed criticism of his lackluster poll numbers. When radio host Laura Ingraham asked the governor about his approval ratings at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Christie shot back, “Is the election next week?”
The governor’s political strategist and his spokesman both did not respond to requests for comments about Tancredo’s decision to essentially put the kibosh on his “Stop Chris Christie” PAC, which he created in November.
To be sure, the PAC itself has only raked in $1,300, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filing. And Tancredo himself has acknowledged part of the reason he started the PAC is that he has a personal ax to grind with Christie following last year’s midterm elections, in which Tancredo unsuccessfully ran for governor in Colorado. He accused the Republican Governors Association (RGA) — which Christie chaired at the time — of hijacking the Republican primary there. Tancredo ran for the state’s top job but lost to former U.S. Rep Bob. Beauprez. (Beauprez narrowly lost to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in the general election).
Tancredo accused the RGA of funneling money to help Beauprez, despite the organization’s promise not to attempt to sway GOP primaries. The left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a group that tracks campaign finances, first came out with the report accusing the RGA of influencing the race through a backdoor method.
In August, when Christie was asked about the allegations, he told reporters, “Anybody who loses an election is always unhappy and looking for someone else to blame.”
Tancredo said that on paper his PAC will still exist and that he’ll keep the website up because it doesn’t cost him anything. “We’re just not going to be aggressive in seeking any financial support,” he said.
The 69-year-old ex-lawmaker — who has engendered controversy as an outspoken opponent of immigration reform and backing the legalizing of marijuana — said he may instead have his sights set on another likely GOP candidate.
“If I had my druthers, we would turn attention to Jeb Bush,” he said.