The imminent entrance of Texas Gov. Rick Perry into the presidential race inevitably rattles the political world around Gov. Chris Christie, as this week sources buzzed about what Perry’s formalized appearance on the national landscape will mean for the New Jersey governor.
Perry’s expected to make a statement Saturday, in time for the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa, according to published reports.
Patrick Murray, political scientist and pollster for Monmouth University, said it’s too early in the process to talk about vice president.
“One thing is certain, though, and that’s they will be getting one more place setting ready at the Drumthwacket dinner table,” said Murray. “The next person to come traipsing through New Jersey looking for Christie’s endorsement will be Gov. Rick Perry.”
Sources couldn’t help but consider what a Perry GOP Primary victory would mean for Christie.
“He’s an obvious VP choice for Perry,” said one source, a Democrat, referring to Christie. “Regionally, it just makes sense. Come on. Do you really think (former Mass. Gov. Mitt) Romney and Christie – two guys from the Northeast – would be on the same national ticket? There’s no way. With Perry, though, you have a perfect regional ticket. Texas and New Jersey.”
Another insider agreed that regionally it makes sense, but continued to question Christie as a running mate.
“It’s just not in him to be a number two guy,” said the Republican source. “Look, when you consider the personality of people who run for president, these people believe they can get into the White House on their own hook. Why would someone – Rick Perry, for example – want someone on the ticket who is conceivably more aggressive and more articulate than he is? If I’m running for president, do I want the headache of an ego like Christie underneath me?”
In addition to fulfilling the regional balancing act, Christie has close ties to the vaunted Bush fundraising arm within the Republican Party, which numerous published reports say remains closed to Perry, who was never a frontline favorite of the Bushes. As a VP, too, he wouldn’t have to give up his day job.
Still, the temperament question persists.
Moreover, one Democrat speaking on condition of anonymity said he does not see the upside for Christie attaching himself to any presidential contender, whether it’s Romney or Perry. Being arch conservative Perry’s backup would all but bury his re-election chances, said the source.
“The best outcome for Chris is to stay out of it and hope the Republican loses so he can run for president in 2016,” the source explained. “The second best outcome is that he stays off the ticket, but helps the ticket and the Republican wins. Then Chris gets to recommend a U.S. Attorney for the State of New Jersey. This guy’s MO is control. Think of it this way. He already has the AG’s Office and a chunk of the media with the dismantling of NJN, plus the organization Democrats in his alliances with Norcross, DiVincenzo, Stack and McCormac. Now he’d have the U.S. Attorney’s Office on top of that. That’s power.”
Certainly speculation in both parties continues regarding whether or not Christie will pursue a second term.
If a Republican wins the White House in 2012 and the economy is still battered, sources in both parties don’t give the sitting governor a shot at re-election.
“The cops and firefighters arguably put him over the edge last time, and they’re going to be motivated against him this time,” said one Democratic source. “I just don’t think he runs knowing he will lose.”
But the overriding belief is if the economy is on an upswing, the governor will have exerted enough reach into the machinery of the Democratic Party to withstand a challenge.