Gov. Chris Christie (R) is scheduled to attend some political events in Florida over the weekend, where he’ll connect with Gov. Rick Scott (R). (The two will not appear in public with one another, raising questions as to which one might be more embarrassed by the other.)
The New Jersey governor will not necessarily receive a warm welcome from every Republican in the Sunshine State. Brian Ballard, Mitt Romney’s Florida finance chairman in 2012 and a major Rick Scott fundraiser, told the Wall Street Journal he sees Christie as a “colossal ego” and a “maniacal bully,” traits he said would make Christie “too dangerous to be our nominee.”
And in response, the governor aides sent theWall Street Journal a 5,600-word collection of positive remarks from Republicans and conservative commentators – evidence, a spokesman said, “of an outpouring of support across the country.”
So, who’s right? Is Brian Ballard’s criticism an aberration against the backdrop of a party that broadly supports Christie or are those negative sentiments more widely held? McKay Coppins has an interesting report suggesting, at a minimum, GOP trepidation. Indeed, Coppins talked with “a dozen party officials, fundraisers, and strategists,” and found “party poobahs … on the brink of panic.”
“My sense is they’re hoping against hope there aren’t more shoes to drop,” said Keith Appell, a Republican strategist with ties to the tea party who has been critical of Christie’s moderate streak. “They really want to support him … but they can’t control anything if another shoe drops.”
A Republican operative at a large super PAC used the same metaphor – a favorite among political observers at the moment – to describe the unease in the party.
“Everyone thinks there’s probably a 60% chance the other shoe will drop,” said the operative, who like many of the people quoted in this story, requested anonymity to speak freely about a situation that is still evolving. “When I saw the press conference, I said, I don’t think he’s lying… But for the deputy chief of staff to do something like that requires a culture in the office that he would have set, and it probably requires other examples that would have made her feel like that was acceptable to do.” He added, “My gut is that they’ll probably find something else.”
Coppins talked to one Republican fundraising operative who has met with Christie who said of donors, “There are definitely people jumping ship.”
This afternoon’s news probably won’t help matters.
The state Assembly committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal released a partial list of names of the 17 high-level Port Authority and Christie administration officials who received subpoenas within the last 24 hours.
The subpoenas request documents concerning: “All aspects of the finances, operations and management of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey , including but not limited to, the reassignment of access lanes in Fort Lee, N.J. to the George Washington Bridge, and any other matter raising concerns about of abuse of power.”
Among those subpoenaed? The Office of the Governor, in addition to Christie’s spokesperson, communications director, incoming chief of staff, and former chief of staff (who now also happens to be the governor’s nominee for state attorney general).