Chris Christie backs Patrick Mara in GOP robocall


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lent his voice to a robocall supporting D.C. Council candidate Patrick Mara. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

One of the national Republican Party’s most popular figures is getting involved in a D.C. Council race: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is endorsing candidate Patrick Mara in a robocall being sent to GOP households Friday.

The call is the work of the D.C. Republican Party; chairman Ron Phillips said he encountered New Jersey state party officials at recent Republican National Committee meetings in Los Angeles and made the case that Mara, a State Board of Education member making his third council run, is “a Chris Christie Republican” worthy of the bombastic governor’s support.

“They were extremely impressed,” said Phillips, who played the Christie recording for a reporter.

In the call, which Phillips said will reach 10,000 registered D.C. Republicans, Christie says Mara will bring “balance and accountability” to the council.

“As a reformer myself, I respect and applaud Patrick Mara’s focus on fiscal responsibility, improving education, and ethics reform,” Christie says. “Our country needs to elect accountable, responsible leaders like Patrick Mara at all levels of local government.”

In an overwhelmingly Democratic city, Mara has sought to portray himself as “very, very moderate” and distanced from the dominant conservative thinking of the national party. But he has gotten some support from conservative Republicans. Earlier in the campaign, the Mara campaign returned a $1,000 donation from a political action committee that avows to support “conservative, pro-freedom candidates” with positions that include opposing D.C. statehood.

Meanwhile, opponent Elissa Silverman is striking back at robocalls sponsored by a pro-Mara independent group attacking her for her support of tax hikes.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Silverman said in a statement sent to reporters. “Like President Obama, I have supported a progressive tax structure where those who can afford it pay their fair share. I have also said that District residents do not mind paying taxes as long as they are getting first-class city services. Right now, people are not getting first-class services, and that is why I would focus on making sure that D.C. residents get much better value for their hard-earned tax dollars.”

The calls, Silverman said, have come from “special interests” that “share his Republican view that taxes on the rich must be kept low, no matter what harm it might cause to the critical government services that benefit all of us.”

One group, the D.C. Action Fund, has raised $35,000 to support Mara and attack his opponents. Its largest donors include Brett McMahon, an executive with the Miller and Long construction company who has been active in anti-union causes, and George Vradenburg, a former AOL executive who is active in D.C. education reform circles.

Silverman said of Christie’s endorsement, “I think it proves once again that [Mara] is a national Republican, that he is not the socially moderate progressive Republican that he claims.”

Tim Craig contributed to this post.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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Mike DeBonis · April 19, 2013