Christie’s Florida Welcome: ‘Scandal’

Photograph by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the State of the State Address at the Statehouse on Jan. 14, 2014 in Trenton, New Jersey.

Where Chris Christie goes, the Democrats will follow.

The Republican governor of New Jersey is bound for Florida as the headliner for fundraisers for the Republican governor there seeking reelection this year. Christie’s forays for Gov. Rick Scott mark the start of a national campaign that the new leader of the Republican Governors Association will make for his party’s state candidates.

It’s also the first venture far from home for a governor embroiled in questions over his staff’s ordering of lane closings leading to the George Washington Bridge in September that snarled traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., for days — apparently in political retribution against the local mayor. The governor publicly apologized, denying knowledge of the plot at the time, and fired the deputy chief of staff implicated in the order to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”’

Christie is said to be one of his party’s better prospects for a presidential nomination in 2016. Florida is the biggest swing state of all — backing President Barack Obama twice, President George W. Bush twice and President Bill Clinton once. And Florida is home turf for the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

So the congresswoman plans a reception of sorts for Christie, reminding anyone who will listen that the governor of New Jersey is arriving with newfound baggage, aka “Bridgegate.” The DNC reports today that Christie: “In the midst of a scandal – will make his first out-of-state political trip of the year to hold fundraisers in Naples, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach to benefit the RGA and Rick Scott.”

Wasserman Schultz plans some appearances of her own in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale on Saturday to drive that message home. If the governor of the Sunshine State is getting some big help in closed-door fundraising, the governor of the Garden State will be getting a not-so-warm welcome in the DNC’s weekend news conferences.

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