Following Saturday’s meltdown by establishment doyen Jeb Bush and a first place finish in South Carolina by billionaire real estate tycoon Donald Trump, the chairman of the Somerset County Republican Party says people should stop freaking out and acting like the contest is over
and the party’s presidential candidate already ordained by the first handful of primary contests.
Al Gaburo, moreover, says Republicans should not feel pressured in any way to publicly pick a prez candidate at this time.
“Our primary is not till the first week of June,” said the chairman. “I’m not in any hurry to do anything. Let’s see what actual voters actually have to say.”
Gov. Chris Christie this past Friday urged party leaders not to endorse anyone and Gaburo agrees with Christie that there is no imminent necessity to take a stand.
“We’ve gotten calls, the governor has gotten calls, but let’s take a deep breath and recognize that we always do better when we maximize our strength as a bloc,” the chairman said. “Let’s see what the governor wants to do. It’s Feb. 22.”
But what about the argument that Christie can maximize his endorsement if he comes out early?
“I’ve heard that, and I’ve read that,” said Gaburo. “If anybody thinks Chris Christie doesn’t know how to work the politics or understand what’s at stake here, that person doesn’t know him. Sure, everyone says the sky is falling, and, yes, everyone in the race would like the governor’s endorsement. But let’s let the governor make that decision. My sense is he’s not feeling inward pressure to jump into this thing and will wait until after March 15th to see how it plays out.
“If Trump wins Florida, then I agree, the game’s over,” the chairman added. “But not now.”
As other chairs size up the benefit of getting behind Florida Senator Marco Rubio as a way of undercutting billionaire tycoon Trump, Gaburo did note Rubio’s second place finish in South Carolina on Saturday as important for Rubio in making a case for why he should be the party’s alternative to the stampeding Trump.
“Rubio finishing ahead of Cruz was hugely important, because the money from Bush more easily can come to Rubio,” he said. “[Ted] Cruz wanted a better finish than third, and given the number of evangelicals and conservatives in South Carolina, he thought he could get it, and didn’t. That’s a key finish for Rubio, but I disagree with the notion that the governor has to make up his mind right now. After all, he has a state to run and a very full legislative agenda.”