Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino suggested today that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie should stop campaigning for governors nationwide if he can’t back New York’s GOP contender.
Mr. Astorino said that Mr. Christie, a fellow Republican, should consider stepping down as chairman of the Republican Governors Association if he doesn’t actively support, as Mr. Christie suggested yesterday, Mr. Astorino’s long-shot bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I think Chris Christie forgot where he came from. In 2009 when nobody thought he’d beat Gov. Corzine. He worked hard, he got through the summer, things changed dramatically in the fall and he won an upset just like I did in Westchester,” Mr. Astorino told the Observer at a campaign event in Manhattan today.
“If Chris Christie is unable to support Republican candidates for governor like me in a neighboring state for whatever reason–because a lot has changed since Bridgegate, I don’t know if there’s a connection with he and Andrew Cuomo on Bridgegate or if Cuomo has something that he’s holding back, information that could be damaging to the governor–if Gov. Christie is unable to help a Republican candidate for governor, maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA,” Mr. Astorino continued. “That’s his job, to go around the country … I would welcome the governor to come here to New York to assist us.”
Mr. Christie, who has seen his own presidential ambitions take a hit after the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, told reporters yesterday that the RGA wouldn’t invest in “landslides” and “lost causes” when he was questioned about Mr. Astorino’s campaign. Polls show the Westchester County executive consistently trailing Mr. Cuomo by nearly 40 points.
With little name recognition statewide and a war chest that pales in comparison to Mr. Cuomo’s–the governor has $35 million cash on hand compared to Mr. Astorino’s $2.4 million–Mr. Astorino is seen as unlikely to topple Mr. Cuomo. But the Republican has been running an aggressive race against Mr. Cuomo, accusing him of corrupting the state and driving residents away with poor economic policies.
Mr. Astorino did insist that he and Mr. Christie have a “good relationship,” but said it was not Mr. Christie’s “role” to dismiss Mr. Astorino’s chances.
“Maybe it’s inconvenient to come over the bridge to New York to help the Republican candidate for governor here,” he said. “But you know what? That’s his call whether he wants to or not … it’s incumbent upon him to help all of us.”
Mr. Christie declined to comment. The RGA did not immediately return requests for comment.