Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that Chris Christie should remain chairman of the Republican Governors Association, despite calls from some quarters for the New Jersey governor to step aside in light of the traffic scandal dogging him back home.
Walker said he and Christie spoke the same day last month that Christie held his marathon press conference declaring his innocence in the scheme to slow traffic on the George Washington Bridge in an apparent act of political retribution. Walker said he believed Christie’s explanation then – that wayward aides executed the traffic jam without his knowledge – and has had no reason to doubt the New Jersey governor since.
We live in cynical times, so it is fair to ask why (other than because it may be true) Walker might be doing this. He might be a presidential rival in 2016 – so why not adopt the Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) approach in trying to belittle the New Jersey governor and pile on with the MSM? Some will rightly see Christie’s losses as Walker’s gains.
For one thing Walker will certainly appreciate Christie’s help this year in his reelection race. For another, Walker may have sensed that the political winds have shifted somewhat on the right, if not in favor of Christie, then at least in opposition to the MSM feeding frenzy. Walker may also understand that Christie’s fate isn’t going to be decided by adversaries bad-mouthing him, but by the findings of multiple investigations. And finally, Walker may not ultimately seek the presidency. Even if he does and does not win the top spot, he may not want to alienate the man who still might be the party’s nominee and possibly the president. He’d make a fine vice president or Cabinet official, I have no doubt.
The decision to stick by his fellow governor is also in keeping with Walker’s image as a regular guy, Midwest salt-of-the-earth type. Part of his “brand,” as they call it, is a contrast with the vindictive and cynical politics inside the Beltway. Truth be told, so long as others potentially in the race are attacking fellow Republicans, he doesn’t have to do so. Let them be accused of “going negative,’ while he rides above the fray.
Christie’s record-setting fundraising haul in January will dampen any calls for him to leave the RGA’s top spot. Regardless of whether he maintains his presidential standing for 2016, Christie will have the ability not only to raise a boatload of cash for all the GOP governors, but also to help out on an as-needed basis in Senate races. If he proves to be a real help to Republican candidates that is a lot of IOU’s to cash in during a presidential run. It is also a means of reassuring party regulars and donors that he still has some political mojo. A good barometer of his political standing, I would suggest, is the number of public appearances Christie makes in the months ahead. No candidate wants a toxic surrogate out there, after all.