After his performance in New Hampshire last week, pundits announced there were signs of life in Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions. Tonight the New Jersey Governor’s campaign was delt a new blow. According to the Washington Post, long time Christie friend, former campaign chairman and the guy who pushed his agenda through the legislature New Jersey state Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos just jumped to the Jeb Bush campaign.
Tim Miller, a Bush spokesman, confirmed Kyrillos’s support Monday as well as a $10,000 donation Kyrillos made in March to Bush’s political-action committee.
The defection of Kyrillos to Bush’s camp is a blow to Christie, who places a premium on loyalty and had hoped to keep his network of allies in New Jersey with him, should he decide to seek the Republican nomination.
Not only is Christie losing a confidant, but a plugged-in operative and former state party chairman who is close with New Jersey’s biggest donors. In 2008, Kyrillos chaired Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in the state.
Kyrillos is one of several influential Christie associates whose ties to the governor have frayed in recent months. Many power brokers who once cheered his rise are now either hesitant to back Christie as he eyes a campaign for the White House, or shifting allegiances.
Bush has been aggressive in reaching out to New Jersey Republicans whose relationships with Christie have cooled as the governor has clashed with GOP state lawmakers and watched his poll numbers drop.
Bush has stopped short of directly confronting Christie by holding a fundraiser on his home turf. But behind the scenes, he has been wooing, via e-mail, a cadre of New Jersey Republicans, including a group that attended a dinner with Bush at New York’s Union League Club in January.
The move makes sense for Bush, who occupies the same political territory as Christie to tale from the Jersey Gov. to shore up his campaign. And I am sure the timing of the announcement had to do with talk of and up tic in Christie’s momentum.