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Report: Jeb Bush Quietly Courting Christie Supporters

By    |   Saturday, 02 May 2015 09:13 PM

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is quietly courting supporters of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the Garden State — playing off the governor's recent woes stemming from fiscal issues and the Bridge-gate scandal.

"I think there is a very broad effort to win over the traditional fundraising community, especially the people who supported Chris Christie," a John Crowley, a biotech executive who gave more than $7,000 to the governor's two State House campaigns, told Politico. "Here in New Jersey, I think there is very broad support for Governor Bush."

Crowley, 48, who plans to donate to Bush's effort, was the subject of a 2010 movie "Extraordinary Measures," starring Harrison Ford.

Bush's behind-the-scenes efforts has been going on since he said he was considering a White House run in January — and it includes heavy email solicitations and meetings with donors in New York.

"He’s a great emailer," Hersh Kozlov, a large GOP fundraiser in New Jersey, told Politico. A former Christie supporter, he now supports Bush.

The former governor met in Miami last weekend with donors — and that included a private session with Lawrence Bathgate, a top New Jersey attorney and former Christie supporter.

Bathgate, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman, described a plan for winning endorsements for a majority of the state's 16 Republican state senators, Politico reports.

He also attracted a key Christie donor to last week's confab, Joe Kyrillos, a former state senator who the governor's 2009 campaign, Politico reports. He is a former New Jersey Republican Party chairman.

Another recent Bush convert is Brian Nelson, 37, a lobbyist who served on Christie’s gubernatorial transition team, according to the report.

Bush has been courting donors with his finance chief, Heather Larrison — and they grow the network by seeking out other potential supporters from those who have made commitments.

So far, he has stayed out of New Jersey directly, Politico reports, because it would be viewed as a direct slap to Christie. However, Bush is talking with supporters about a possible fundraiser in the state during the summer.

Neither Bush nor Christie has announced their bids for the White House, though Christie's polling numbers have plummeted because of the state's many woes, including the Bridge-gate scandal.

David Wildstein, a former top official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty Friday to charges stemming from the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge that snarled traffic for days. the closure was seen as political retribution for a Democratic mayor who would not support Christie's re-election.

Two others — including Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and Bill Baroni, the governor's former Port Authority appointee — were indicted on charges stemming from the closings. The authority operates the bridge.

Tim Miller, a Bush spokesman, declined to comment on the Jersey effort.

"We’re happy to earn the support of any like-minded individuals across the country that want to support Gov. Bush," he told Politico.

Christie supporters, meanwhile, said Bush's moves will have little overall impact in the Garden State.

"I am not concerned about it," said Mike DuHaime, a Christie adviser, told Politico. "Ninety-nine percent of the state GOP political establishment will be with Christie if he runs.

"The few defectors will have their own personal reasons for doing so, but it will be of no concern in the long run," he said.

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is quietly courting supporters of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the Garden State - playing off the governor's recent woes stemming from fiscal issues and the Bridge-gate scandal. I think there is a very broad effort to win over the...
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2015-13-02
Saturday, 02 May 2015 09:13 PM
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