Politics & Government

February 6, 2014

Chris Christie gets chilly reception on his visit to North Texas

Top Republicans didn’t meet with Christie during his visit, as Democrats criticize the New Jersey governor.

Snow and ice in North Texas didn’t stop New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie from making his way to Fort Worth and Dallas on Thursday, on a quest to raise money to help fellow Republicans.

But he didn’t receive a warm welcome from Texas Democrats — or some top Republicans who didn’t meet with him.

As he attended local events closed to the media, officials with the Texas Democratic Party took a dim view of the visit by the embattled Republican governor who has been under fire since investigations began into “Bridgegate” and whether his staffers conspired to tie up traffic on New Jersey’s George Washington Bridge as political payback.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said the governor’s recent scandal shows that Christie has a record of putting “politics over people,” just as he said Republican leaders in Texas do.

“Like much of America, [Texas Attorney General] Greg Abbott knows just how toxic Chris Christie has become,” Hinojosa said. “He remains embroiled in a scandal with more questions than answers.

“The culture of intimidation and retribution that Christie has created in his administration is the model that Republican governors — who elected Christie as their chairman — want to elevate and emulate but it’s not what’s best for Texans or the American people,” Hinojosa said.

Christie didn’t meet with Gov. Rick Perry or Abbott, the perceived Republican front-runner in this year’s gubernatorial race during his visit.

“Gov. Perry’s not scheduled to be there, but governors come to our state regularly for a variety of reasons and we’re pleased to have them here,” said Rich Parsons, deputy director of communications for Perry’s office.

Abbott was in Houston presenting his “Securing Texans” plan, staffers said.

Raising money

Christie, who made the trip as head of the Republican Governors Association, could not be reached for comment about his trip. RGA workers said his trip was “still a go,” despite the wintry weather in Texas.

His visit to Texas, and his upcoming trip to Illinois next week, is part of his effort to help raise money for the GOP, attend strategy sessions and brush up his image, as he is still considered a potential presidential candidate in 2016. In the coming months, he plans to make similar stops in states ranging from Georgia and Maryland to New York and Washington, D.C.

“They all come through Texas,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “Christie is coming through to raise money for the RGA but also to increase his own visibility for the prospect of a presidential run in 2016.”

This trip for the RGA, which is made up of the country’s 29 Republican state governors, has been planned since December, officials have said.

“So far, Chris Christie’s tenure as Chair of the Republican Governors Association has been marred by damaging revelations and controversy,” according to a statement sent out Thursday by the Democratic National Committee.

Thursday’s “trip to Texas is just the latest example that Christie’s scandals aren’t just damaging for him — they’re increasingly a liability for the Republicans he’s supposed to be helping.”

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