Chris Christie, Rick Perry at Odds Over New York Governor's Race

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 08:37 PM

By Andrea Billups

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — both possible Republican presidential contenders in 2016 — are mixing it up over Christie's snub of a New York gubernatorial candidate.

Rob Astorino, who trails incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was asked by intermediaries not to attend a meeting of the National Governors Association in Aspen, Colorado, this week over a flap with Christie, the group's chairman, Politico reported.

The message that he should stay home was conveyed to the New York candidate after Astorino, a Westchester County executive, failed to garner support from Christie. Christie, looking to improve his national reputation after several missteps, drew Astorino's ire after he said publicly that joining his campaign was a waste of resources, according to Politico.

The party "will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning," Christie said while campaigning in Connecticut with gubernatorial hopeful Tom Foley earlier this week.

"We don’t pay for landslides, and we don’t invest in lost causes," Christie said bluntly of Astorino. "If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut."

Perry, however, pushed back against Christie's snub and joined other governors in encouraging Astorino to attend anyway. Perry later posted a photo of himself with his arm around Astorino on Twitter. "Glad to be with my buddy @RobAstorino in Aspen," Perry tweeted Wednesday evening.

Christie and Astorino reportedly talked at the RGA meeting and the outcome was not good, Politico noted.

The flap marked a fracture with stars in the party and opened a window for Perry and others to question Christie's loyalty to the GOP, with Perry suggesting he was more aligned with Democrats in New York, ABC News reported.

Astorino, who had hoped to mend fences with Christie at the meeting, said other governors in attendance had been more generous, offering to come to his state to campaign with him. Those included not only Perry, but Mike Pence of Indiana, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — all party heavyweights.

Astorino's spokeswoman Jessica Proud told Politico, "The Aspen trip made it clear that governors from around the nation will be helping County Executive Astorino become Gov. Astorino. It also made it clear that RGA Chairman Chris Christie will not be among them. We can live with that, and we will move on."

Astorino on Tuesday also suggested that Christie should step down as RGA chairman if he's picking favorites to support, the New York Observer noted.

"I think Chris Christie forgot where he came from. In 2009, when nobody thought he’d beat Gov. Corzine, he worked hard, he got through the summer, things changed dramatically in the fall, and he won an upset just like I did in Westchester," Astorino said.

He added: "If Chris Christie is unable to support Republican candidates for governor like me in a neighboring state… maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA. That’s his job, to go around the country… I would welcome the governor to come here to New York to assist us."

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