The Washington Post has reported that Florida Gov. Rick Scott was very pleased about the chance to campaign along side New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The two travel around together throughout the Sunshine State and rake in the cash. But that all changed when the “Bridgegate,” scandal broke and Christie was suddenly the focus of a national media frenzy.
As the New Jersey incident gained national attention earlier this month, Scott’s campaign contemplated canceling the fundraisers with Christie around the state. The Scott campaign was concerned that their would be far more attention on Christie and less on Scott. However, in the end the Scott team ultimately decided to go ahead and welcome Christie Florida with open arms and hope for the best.
Scott, one of the nation’s most vulnerable Republican governors, also will receive help on Friday night at a Naples, Fla., fundraiser headlined by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Scott is expected to face a formidable challenge this year from former GOP Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as a Democrat.
Meanwhile, Christie has a great deal of explaining to do to a number of high roller who want to place their money on a winner in 2016.
On Sunday, Christie will attend two fundraisers in Palm Beach and meet with top financial supporters at a gathering organized by Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, who urged the governor to consider a late entry into the 2012 presidential race. The event, which was first reported by The Washington Post, will allow some of Christie’s longtime supporters to huddle following the governor’s sweeping re-election in November.
As Christie spends time along Florida’s coast, the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey and the state Legislature are looking into a scheme that shut down lanes to the major bridge connecting New York and New Jersey for four days in September, creating massive traffic jams. The plan apparently was hatched by Christie’s aides as a political vendetta, possibly because the city of Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor wouldn’t endorse the Republican governor’s re-election.
The governor apologized and fired a top aide but told reporters he had “no knowledge or involvement” in the incident. He has not been implicated in the case, yet the scandal could dog him in the weeks ahead and cause consternation for his financial backers.
During the private meetings, how Christie addresses the imbroglio could be critical for financial rainmakers who are beginning to take stock of a potentially large Republican field. Two prominent Florida Republicans – former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio – are viewed as potential candidates.
“Is Governor Christie someone I would consider? Absolutely. Yes. But I would consider other people,” said Ned Siegel, a Boca Raton, Fla., developer and prominent Republican donor who is helping Scott’s campaign.
The 2016 presidential campaign will begin in earnest following November’s midterm elections. Insiders suggest that any prospective candidate will need to raise $50 million to $100 million by the end of the 2016 primaries. Separately, aspiring presidential candidates will need wealthy donors willing to fund super PACs that will advocate for the candidate outside the confines of a presidential campaign.
Democrats have tried to use the bridge scandal to tarnish Christie, who cruised to re-election against an underfunded Democratic opponent.