WATCH: Is Chris Christie’s Political Bestie Abandoning Him?
As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie builds his team for a presidential run in 2016, he has already suffered the indignity of polls that show he would not win his own state if he runs. And now even his closest New Jersey friends are not committing to him.
Et tu, Kyrillos?
Republican State Senator Joe Kyrillos is a longtime friend of Governor Christie. In 1995, when Christie won his election as Morris County Freeholder, it was Kyrillos who swore him into office. The State Senator went on to chair Christie’s first gubernatorial campaign in 2009. They have close political ties.
And yet during a taping of Jersey Matters, a New Jersey public affairs show I host for WJLP-TV3, Kyrillos refused to commit to Christie in 2016 and raised the possibility that he may side with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in a race for the Republican presidential nomination.
I simply asked, “Are you supporting Chris Christie if he runs for President in 2016?”
Instead of getting the quick “yes” that I expected, I got, “You know, he’s not running yet. Jeb Bush isn’t running yet. We’re going to look at all the candidates.”
Jeb Bush? Who said anything about Jeb Bush? But the Florida Governor from a presidential lineage may be fresh in Kyrillos’s mind on account of his recently having dinner with him. The state senator was among a small group of donors and politicians invited by Bush to have dinner in Manhattan.
I asked Kyrillos if we should read anything into the dinner with Bush?
“I like him. I’ve known him for a long time. So when a two-term Governor of a big state, who I know and respect, calls and says ‘let’s go to dinner,’ most people go and so I went,” answered Kyrillos. “I enjoyed it. He’s a good man. We’ll see how things unfold.”
“I like him?” “He’s a good man?” Kyrillos didn’t take the opportunity to say those things about Christie. It sure seems like one of the most powerful state senators in Christie’s home state is in play for the Jeb Bush campaign.
So I tried one last time and asked, “So if they both run, what are you going to do?”
“You know, we haven’t come to that bridge yet,” said Kryillos.
In fairness, I think the bridge reference was unintentional. But Kryillos’s reluctance to endorse Christie, even this early, is a warning sign to the governor of how much the scandal over a politically manufactured traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, has hurt his political future.
One day “Bridgegate” will be a fascinating political science study of how a politician can be cleared of all wrongdoing and yet be crippled by the news reports surrounding the investigation. But for now, as Christie travels the country looking for support, his approval rating in New Jersey has hit an all time low and even his closest political friends are wavering.
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