Two weeks ago, after some pundits had argued that Chris Christie had already smartly pivoted from his scandals, I quoted former South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson’s unwanted advice. Dawson worried that Christie’s problems could infect the Republican Governors Association, the fundraising behemoth ($50.3 million in the bank, $22.3 million more than the Democrats) that was already heading for a tough year of bailing out GOP chiefs in Pennsylvania, Maine, Florida, and Dawson’s own South Carolina.
“This all has the potential to affect the RGA and governor’s races if it grows any more legs, like it has with the Hoboken mayor. Mark Sanford is a guy who resigned and didn’t want any of his scandal embroiled around the RGA. Now, nobody’s called for that from Christie. But if we’ve got two, three more scandals, that’s the concern I’ve got.”
Dawson’s warning got little attention; defeated Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli got only a little more when he said the same thing. But today, Murray Waas furthers the story and asks some worried Republicans if Christie can stay atop the RGA.
A senior staffer who works for another national fundraising committee told me: “This type of thing did not start with Christie and will not end when he is gone. People give to the RGA and the DGA [Democratic Governors Association] and other committees to gain access and an edge. It happens all the time. Nobody pays attention. The difference now is there is more scrutiny. Christie is under a microscope—and what goes unnoticed is going to instead be magnified, and become part of a narrative: Republicans—Republican governors do this.”
The advantage, for Christie, is that it’ll take months to coldly determine whether his scandal is affecting fundraising. Christie worked hard for this job, defeating Bobby Jindal for it, aided immensely by the support he got from the New York donor base that had wanted him to run for president in 2012. And now he’s doing a fundraising trip to Texas, watching incumbent Gov. Rick Perry and GOP front-runner Greg Abbott campaign elsewhere.* It’s embarrassing, but it’s being counteracted for now by question-raising about all allegations, throwing up enough dust to make an RGA resignation look extreme.
*Correction, Feb. 6, 2014: This post originally misspelled Greg Abbott’s last name.