Even as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has raised big dollars for his state party, it has in turn paid not only for some of his travel but for items such as Christmas cards for supporters in the crucial presidential primary state of Iowa, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Christie's legal bill after the so-called "Bridgegate" scandal — from which he has been cleared — cost the N.J. Republican Committee $400,000 alone, the Journal noted as the Republican Governor's Association chairman and possible presidential primary contender keeps up a vigorous schedule across the country.
Some fellow Republicans in the Garden State acknowledge that the funds should be used to spread the wealth around. "They have a bunch of candidates to elect. The party is going to need money in those districts," the state's former GOP Gov. Tom Kean told the Journal. "It’s not to just elect the governor but to elect officials at all levels."
Christie has raised about $5.5 million in 2011, about $3.2 in 2012 and another $4.1 million in 2013. But his state party committee has spent $12.6 in those three years combined, according to the N.J. Election Law Enforcement Commission, the Journal noted.
Party observers have questioned his influence, with some suggesting he has been more focused on outside races than using his power to help those inside his home state, the Journal said. But party officials say they aren't paying for his personal travel and also add that this fundraising and high-profile trips have brought influence and donors to their state.
Supporters told the Journal that Christie was also influential in bringing the state party out of debt when he first took office, and now, according to his adviser, Bill Palatucci, the state party is in good fiscal shape.
Christie may be ready to pivot from New Jersey finances to a national campaign bid, hiring the Republican National Committee's top fundraising chief, Ray Washburn, for a possible presidential run, The Associated Press reported.
At least one news outlet predicts Christie will use his annual state-of-the-state address to talk to the nation, not just New Jersey. "This speech may be the first time a wider audience is hearing how he brought Democratic leaders to the table to achieve a series of big, bold reforms during the last five years," noted a statement from his office
to the AP in advance of his Tuesday night speech.
A video released by Christie's office also seeks to broaden his tent, the AP reported.
"We have to be willing to play outside the red and blue boxes that the media pundits put us in," Christie says in the video. "We have to be willing to reach out to others who look or speak differently than us."
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