Rick Shaftan, the political point man for gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan, is convinced: the much heralded announcement that former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie is running for governor will never come.
"He's absolutely not running," said Shaftan.
That is, of course, coming from the chief strategist for Lonegan, the conservative former mayor of Bogota and anti-tax advocate who entered the race on Monday. But Shaftan said that since resigning from his post as U.S. Attorney on Monday, Christie has not acted like a candidate.
"Don't you think Todd Christie would say he's absolutely in this race, 100 percent? On December 2nd the operation starts going. That's what these guys expected," said Shaftan, referring to the former U.S. Attorney's brother and the Republican county chairmen who are hoping Christie enters the race.
Christie has already told reporters that he will likely make a decision about whether he's running in four to six weeks. To Shaftan, that's far too long a wait when you have to immediately start raising money to take on Corzine, who not only has the power of incumbency but can drop tens of millions of his own dollars into the race without blinking an eye. Shaftan also argued that Christie's likely fundraising base – Wall Street, where his brother Todd made a fortune – isn't looking flush for this campaign cycle.
"He's telling people it's not that important for him. This isn't just an election. People are pissed off – it's like we've got to do something about this or move on. He's saying I'm going to go on vacation for four to six weeks." said Shaftan. "No political consultant would ever let a candidate talk like this."
Bill Palatucci, Christie's close friend and advisor, declined to comment on Shaftan's argument. But State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown), who's also close to Christie, said that nobody should read anything into the situation other than the obvious: Christie has been U.S. Attorney for seven years – a job which precludes him from political discussions – and he's naturally taking some time to make a huge decision.
"I think Chris just finished a very successful seven year tenure as U.S. Attorney on Monday night, and people should take him at his word that he needs some time during the holidays to consult with friends and family," said Kyrillos. "The editorials, the aftermath of his decision to depart have been overwhelmingly and universally outstanding. He's beginning a series of parties and social events, civic events where people want to honor him, toast him, congratulate him and that, combined with Christmas time, I know he's going to have a good month."
Assembly Minority Whip Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) stressed that he doesn't have any inside information on Christie's intentions, but said it's only natural to explore one's options after leaving such a high profile job.
"All I can tell you is that I hope this guy runs. Whether he runs two or four weeks from now, I don't see that making a difference. The people vote in June. They don't vote in January," he said.