By Mark Preston
CNN Political Director
Washington (CNN) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie raised $1.5 million during a fundraising swing through Texas last week, the Republican Governors Association announced early Tuesday morning, hours before the embattled governor was scheduled to headline more events in Illinois.
Moreover, the RGA raised $6 million in January, said spokeswoman Gail Gitcho, who added that this was done with “the help of Chairman Christie and all of our Republican governors.
“That is more than twice as much that has ever been raised during the same month in RGA history, and twice as much that was raised in the last comparable cycle (2010) in the same month,” said Gitcho in a note where she outlined the impressive fundraising haul in what is traditionally a slow fundraising month following Christmas.
But political fundraising successes can’t mask the issues Christie faces back in New Jersey. On Monday, word leaked that a state legislative committee was planning to issue 18 more subpoenas Tuesday, as part of its investigation into the traffic study that has shaken Christie’s administration and called into question the governor’s own political future.
The Fort Lee traffic scandal is overshadowing what should have been the “Political Year of Christie” in which the newly elected New Jersey governor could safely look at his next political step … perhaps to the presidential campaign trial. And why not? He had easily defeated his Democratic opponent in a Democratic state, won majorities in two key demographic groups that traditionally vote for Democrats: Latinos and women, and was the front runner in early presidential polling.
Fort Lee has changed that. Now, he is fighting allegations that his administration is corrupt and he, personally, is politically petty. Oh, he no longer sits atop the polls. For his part, Christie has continually denied knowing anything about the Fort Lee traffic scandal, and has pledged to get to the bottom of it.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. After winning reelection, Christie was supposed to slide into the chairmanship of the RGA — the campaign arm for GOP governors that also serves as a launching pad for presidential hopefuls. Being the chairman of the RGA is an open ticket to travel the country, earn valuable chits with candidates and local party officials and spend time with deep-pocketed Republicans. The latter are the types of donors who could help convince other wealthy contributors to invest in a presidential candidate, say, like, Christie.
So far, it doesn’t appear as these GOP financiers are willing to abandon consideration of the New Jersey governor, just ask Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, who hosted a gathering at his Florida home last month.
If Christie is able to weather this political storm, he becomes all the stronger, the type of candidate deep-pocketed donors like to back. If Christie doesn’t, well, then he doesn’t and all the fundraising success in the world won’t help him out.