As Texas Senator Ted Cruz—a Republican presidential hopeful for 2016—prepares for a visit to the Garden State on Thursday, PolitickerNJ explored which political teams are forming in the New Jersey GOP and which officials and insiders are backing which candidates.
Because of Christie’s pull with NJ insiders, some candidates like retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Ohio Governor John Kasich and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina have yet to draw much high-level support from those closest to NJ politics.
Here is where the support currently lies among the candidates and members of the New Jersey Republican Party:
Governor Chris Christie and the NJ Republican Establishment
As the Governor of New Jersey, Christie has vast support in his home state as he pursues the presidency. His campaign seems to be floundering nationwide (though he did get some notable endorsements in New Hampshire) but Christie still has the allegiance of ranking GOP officials in the state like Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Christie also has the official endorsement of the NJGOP.
A recent poll, however, shows that popular support is waning quickly for Christie who trails the other candidates at just four percent. He is currently ahead of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul who sits at three percent.
Donald Trump and state Senator Mike Doherty (R-23)
One Republican state senator that has broken away from the Christie camp is Mike Doherty. Back in October, Doherty announced that he would be backing Trump for the presidency. Trump is currently the frontrunner candidate but many critics say that his brash style and political inexperience will make him unelectable. Doherty disagrees.
Trump currently sits at 22 percent nationally.
Ted Cruz and Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan
Though Cruz is struggling somewhat with visibility in the packed Republican presidential field, Lonegan thinks he is he right man for the job. In fact, Lonegan is the state campaign director for Cruz. This Thursday’s visit will demonstrate whether or not Cruz can make headway in the state.
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25) is also “almost certainly” backing Cruz according to a report from Politico New Jersey.
Cruz is currently tied at nine percent with Kasich.
Jeb Bush and state Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13)
Back in July, Kyrillos hosted a fundraiser for the former Florida Governor along with big time fundraiser Larry Bathgate. While few in New Jersey have come out publicly in support of Bush, the guest list at that event hinted that some Christie supporters in NJ might defect to Bush if Christie were to drop out of the race. However, with Bush’s campaign failing to gain the momentum initially anticipated when he made his presidential ambitions known (he currently is at eight percent), it remains to be seen if anyone will declare their allegiance to the candidate as he appears more and more unlikely to become the pick for president.
Marco Rubio and Juan Gutierrez
Wealthy Cuban-American contractor Gutierrez threw his support behind Rubio when he hosted a fundraiser for him at his Colts Neck home back in August. That fundraiser was able to bring in about $130,000 for the Florida Senator’s pursuit of the presidency. The two share a Cuban background, something that seems of high importance to Republican Gutierrez as he has also backed fellow Cubans Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Albio Sires, both Democrats, in the past. Despite Rubio being only one of two Cuban-Americans in the Republican presidential race (along with Cruz), Gutierrez supports Rubio as his candidate.
Cruz currently comes second to Trump nationally with 11 percent.