I spoke to a New Jerseyan well-connected in that state’s Republican politics, and he laid out the thinking behind Gov. Chris Christie’s endorsement of Mitt Romney today.
In the end, Christie didn’t have a lot of options in the GOP field. He’s a blue-state Republican governor, with one other blue-state Republican-governor option in the field in Romney. “He’s reasonably conservative, he’s electable, and endorsing him doesn’t necessarily mean you carry all of his baggage,” this New Jerseyan said.
A Christie endorsement of Rick Perry was, fairly or not, never an option, according to this figure. Perry’s reputation in recent weeks has been defined by his stumbling debate performances, his close association with a particularly religious expression of social conservatism, the endorsing pastor’s comments about Mormonism, the offensive old name of his family’s hunting property, etc. Christie is up for reelection in November 2013, and “there’s just no way” that a Republican governor of the Garden State could be reelected if he’s closely associated with the “overtones” of Perry’s brand of conservatism, he said.
He added that one minor surprise in the timing of the Christie announcement is that it comes before the state legislative elections in November, in which all 40 state senate seats are on the ballot.
This New Jerseyan, who is well-connected to the Christie camp, predicts that the governor will be hitting the campaign trail on behalf of Romney from time to time, “popping up in Iowa, New Hampshire, probably Florida . . . Once Christie’s on the team, he’s definitely on the team.”