Chris Christie’s inner circle
The political world — or at least the Republican presidential race — is in a state of suspended animation at the moment as everyone waits to see whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might re-think his past refusals to run .
While we wait, we thought it would be helpful to know the men and women that Christie looks to for political advice and who are likely advising him as he weighs the pleas — from regular folks and politicians like former New York Gov. George Pataki — to get into the race.
This list of Christie’s inner circle of advisers is culled from conversations with Republican operatives who are familiar with who the governor trusts and consults with when it comes to politics.
One interesting note: One person not on this list is Russ Schriefer who served as Christie’s media consultant during his successful 2009 campaign. That’s because Schriefer and his partner Stuart Stevens are serving as the lead media advisers to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s presidential bid.
The Christie Inner Circle
* Rich Bagger: Bagger currently serves as Christie’s chief of staff, overseeing all of the governor’s interests in Trenton. Bagger spent a decade in the New Jersey Assembly where he served as majority leader and was elected to a single term in the state Senate in 2001. He also spent nearly two decades as a senior vice president for public affairs at Pfizer.
* Maria Comella: Comella is Christie’s deputy chief of staff for communications, the same position she held during the 2009 gubernatorial race. Comella served as deputy communications director for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential race and has done press stints for the 2006 Iowa gubernatorial campaign of Jim Nussle and for President Bush’s 2004 re-election race in New Hampshire.
* Mike DuHaime: DuHaime is a New Jersey native who was the chief strategist for the governor’s 2009 bid. Prior to that, DuHaime managed Giuliani’s campaign for president. In the 2010 election, he oversaw the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s independent expenditure effort. DuHaime has served as the executive director of the New Jersey Republican State Committee and is heavily involved in the ongoing redistricting process in the state. DuHaime was also one of the Fix’s top free agent political operatives in the 2012 cycle.
* Joe Kyrillos: Kyrillos is a long time state legislator, having first been elected to the state Assembly in 1988 and currently serving in the state Senate. Kyrillos served as the chairman of Christie’s 2009 campaign and has been a champion of the governor’s at-times controversial agenda in the legislature. The two men met in 1992 when Kyrillos ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Frank Pallone (D). Kyrillos is mentioned as a possible candidate against Sen. Bob Menendez (D) in 2012.
* Bill Palatucci:Palatucci, a former law partner of Christie’s, heads up the governor’s fundraising world. He served as co-chairman of the Christie 2009 inaugural and is currently one of New Jersey’s Republican National Committeemen. Palatucci’s history in Garden State GOP politics goes way back; he spearheaded the presidential efforts of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush in the state.
* Bill Stepien: Stepien managed Christie’s 2009 race and now serves as deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs. Stepien was national field director for Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 general election presidential campaign and played the same role for Giuliani in the primary. Stepien was also New Hampshire political director for President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election race.