Is Christie headed for a great fall?

By Art Gallagher


Graphic by Robert Hazelrigg. Click on photo for RobertHazelrigg.com

Prominent New Jersey Republicans seem to finally be moving out of Governor Chris Christie’s shadow.

This afternoon The Star Ledger reported that Monmouth County State Senator Joe Kyrillos was among the 15 or so New Jersey Republicans who met with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a top rival of Christie’s for the 2016 GOP Presidential nomination, last week at a dinner hosted by Lawrence E. Bathgate.  Bathgate, an Ocean County attorney, is one of the top Republican fundraisers in the nation.  Also attending the dinner held at the Union Club in Manhattan was Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr, according to The Record’s Charles Stile, who first reported the event.

Such potential defections from the Christie camp were unthinkable just 15 months ago.  Christie’s attempt at ousting Kean as Senate Minority Leader immediately following his 2013 re-election, and the resulting fallout as Kean, Jr’s father, the former Governor, went national in criticizing Christie can explain the younger Kean’s flirtation with the Bush campaign.

But Kyrillos being anything other than solidly in Christie’s corner is big news.  Their relationship was personal before it was political.  Christie introduced Kyrillos to his wife Susan. He swore Christie into his first elected office, Morris County Freeholder. Kyrillos was the Chairman of the Christie for Governor campaign in 2009.

There have been signs that the Christie-Kyrillos relationship is strained for months, but the senator has been careful not to let a rift show in public, until now.

Brian Nelson, an attorney at Archer-Greiner and a close Kyrillos ally was also at the dinner.  Nelson said there were several other New Jersey Republicans present who he declined to name.  “I’ve already committed to Bush’s Leadership and Super PAC,” said Nelson, who was on Christie’s 2009 transition team and was appointed to the board of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority by Christie, a position he has since given up. “Jeb Bush has the best shot of those in the mix to be elected in 2016,” Nelson said.

Nelson noted that he is not speaking for Kyrillos but emphasized that the senator’s relationship with Bush goes back over a decade to when the he was Chairman of the NJ GOP and Nelson was the Executive Director of the State Party.

Kyrillos has yet to respond to a call for comment.

These early defections on the part of Bathgate (who publicly referred to Christie’s Superstorm Sandy rebuilding efforts in Ocean County as “stupid,” wasteful, and a violation of core Republican principals) and Nelson, both prominent Republican fundraisers, are not good for Christie’s presidential prospects.  The potential defections of Kean, Jr and Kyrillos may signal that Christie is a lame duck governor without a veto-proof grip on the agenda in Trenton.

With Christie’s New Jersey poll numbers tumbling and his extensive out of state travel as an unannounced presidential candidate, more New Jersey Republicans may start asserting their independence from the Governor to whom they have heretofore acted as though they had vowed obedience.  Kean and Kyrillos distancing themselves from Christie makes it safer for others to do so.

Christie has often spoken about how important loyalty is to him.  But since his gubernatorial reelection campaign kicked off in 2013, many New Jersey Republicans have privately and off the record grumbled how loyalty is a one way street with Christie.  “It’s all about Christie” was a frequent complaint among Republicans during the 2013 campaign in which the Governor had no coattails in the legislative races and during which he appeared publicly more with Democrats than Republicans as he ran up his numbers against a weak opponent.

Christie’s attempted ouster of Kean Jr post election was widely viewed as an act of disloyalty toward the Kean family which had supported Christie throughout his career.

Kyrillos breaking with Christie, if that happens, would be viewed as a catastrophic rift in Christie’s inner circle.

If Christie loses the fundraising war to Bush and loses his disciplinarian’s grip on the New Jersey Republicans in the legislature, all of his advisers, staffers and strategists will not be able to put Christie’s clout together again.

Christie is in Maryland today for the Inauguration of Governor Larry Hogan.


Posted: January 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: 2016 Presidential Politics, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Joe Kyrillos, Monmouth County, Tom Kean JR, Tom Kean Sr | Tags: , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

23 Comments on “Is Christie headed for a great fall?”

  1. Is Christie headed for a great fall? – The Save Jersey Blog said at 6:17 pm on January 21st, 2015:

    […] By Art Gallagher | MoreMonmouthMusings […]

  2. Well, said at 7:35 pm on January 21st, 2015:

    better late than never. Loyalty is key and an absolute necessity: there are too many who blow with the winds and undermine and destroy their friends,now. That being said, in the case of this governor, many of us political junkies knew he was toast the moment Bridgegate happened: sad but true. When arrogance and separate sets of rules become the culture and method of operation, the quicksand begins to shift, and sucks the life out of the offender. Besides the sad truth of this administration and our leader, our possibly last best hope to turn Jersey around, has been squandered. But, it will be up for debate among us all, as to whom our next nominee should be: we hope just name i.d. and W’s fundraising list doesn’t carry the day,this time: with the shift in demographics, Bush fatigue,plus media/Dem/ lib defiance and predjudice, many of us believe Jeb cannot win in ’16- and we fervently pray other qualified candidates get a fair vetting, chance, and vote!

  3. Scott Neuman said at 8:41 pm on January 21st, 2015:

    Literally hundreds of millions of dollars funneled to his pay for play buddies and bond attorneys (Also know as the tooth fairies) and it’s a one way straight?

  4. @ Well said at 9:30 pm on January 21st, 2015:

    Spot on, especially about the last two lines,

    Party leaders take notice, please don’t push us into something we didn’t want like last time.

    “we hope just name i.d. and W’s fundraising list doesn’t carry the day,this time: with the shift in demographics, Bush fatigue,plus media/Dem/ lib defiance and predjudice, many of us believe Jeb cannot win in ’16- and we fervently pray other qualified candidates get a fair vetting, chance, and vote!”

  5. The Bayshore Bulldog said at 10:07 pm on January 21st, 2015:

    “No More RINOs – Take Back The GOP!!”

    If the GOP Establishment puts up another Liberal RINO like Romney, Christie, Bush etc, Conservatives will draft Sarah Palin as an independent candidate for POTUS.

    Conservatives are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!!

  6. Nancy Wesley said at 10:12 pm on January 21st, 2015:

    Why oh why am I not surprised by this article.

  7. TR said at 9:44 am on January 22nd, 2015:

    When the smartest guy in Monmouth County politics (Nelson not Joe) jumps ship its pretty likely that you are sinking.

  8. Christie heading for a big fall??? I say Kyrillos will be pushed off the wall as well! said at 4:39 pm on January 22nd, 2015:

    How can Joe continue to support this bully? The man has appointed more patronage to the Port Authority than all governors combined! He said he would be like no other governor–transparent. That was indeed a lie.

    He spends too much time out of the state. He refuses to reveal the expenses of the state police. Their identities are not wanted; just the amounts of their bills—but CC refuses!

    Keep it up Joe. I am one of your constituents–and thoroughly disgusted that your Christie’s LAPDOG!!


  9. All Senators Will Be Watched, Not Just Joe said at 7:15 am on January 23rd, 2015:


  10. Jim Granelli said at 8:03 am on January 23rd, 2015:

    @ All Senators

    That link is hilarious. But, what else would you expect from Jim Sage, AKA Monmouth Watchdog, who tries to remain anonymous while writing attack pieces on Republicans.

    Let me ask you Mr. Sage, where are your attack articles on Democrats, or are they as pure as the driven snow?

    One thing for sure, you are no journalist. You are a hack attack dog.

  11. Name (required) said at 12:49 pm on January 23rd, 2015:

    Look who is calling names phony.That last line is you

  12. Jim Granelli said at 1:11 pm on January 23rd, 2015:

    Sigh, after a few nice weeks of peace in the valley, the nutcase natives are restless again and playing their childish games again.

    At least I have the gonads to call someone else out by name. You “Name Whatever TF” it is are a coward.

  13. @jim granelli said at 2:42 pm on January 23rd, 2015:

    And your just a political hack, lol. Pot calling the kettle black

  14. Tommy De Seno said at 2:57 pm on January 23rd, 2015:

    Wasn’t Kyrillos Romney’s NJ campaign manager?

    Wouldn’t this be a defection from Romney, not Christie?

  15. Jim Granelli said at 4:00 pm on January 23rd, 2015:

    @ jim granelli

    And I’m calling you a coward. Again, sticks and stones won’t break these bones, so keep on making yourself out to be the fool.

    Have a nice day 🙂

  16. Where the Hell are The Republicans of Monmouth County on this Matter? said at 1:03 pm on January 24th, 2015:

    Mr. Granelli, perhaps you can assist on this. Today’s APP editorial (I don’t want to know your personal opinion of the APP) is so correct regardingChristies “transparency.

    Don’t you think the R’s should collectively demand CC release this information?? This man–once supported by me–is getting out of hand and out of control.

    Where are my fellow county R’s??


  17. Jim Granelli said at 1:37 pm on January 24th, 2015:

    @ Where the hell”

    I don’t respond to cowardly anonymous posters on issues anymore. However, I will call them out for being cowards.

    That said, had a wonderful nite last evening at Sheriff Golden’s event. Speaking with a bunch of friends, part of THEIR comments to me dealt with the anonymous and cowardly haters here.

    Have a nice day 🙂

  18. So disappointed said at 4:07 pm on January 24th, 2015:

    in Chris Christie. When I think back to 2009 and the excitement and unity among Republicans, it is beyond tragic. He has completely turned his back on those loyal slobs who worked night and day to get him where he is today. He instead, surrounded himself with a bunch of immature egomaniacs who made sure that he burned every bridge along the way. His disgusting ass kissing of Democrats to appear “bi-partisan” at the expense of loyal Republicans
    is pathetic. Whoever said loyalty is a one way street with Christie hit the nail on the head.

  19. @So Disappointed said at 4:52 pm on January 24th, 2015:

    I agree with you 100%. Lets see when and whom what other Republican legislators, we worked our butt off, will finally shed the “yolk” of Christie, and declare their independence of him.

    What this man has done is WRONG! And your right about his phony “bipartisanship.”

    Its Christie’s way or the highway. His sheer arrogance in using peoples hard earned money on his personal friend lawyers (the Mastro Group) to pay for his own investigation into himself is disgusting. Heck, the key witnesses weren’t even interviewed—what the hell kind of objective report is that? Well, it’s not objective–it was very “subjective.”

    Then there is the issue of the state police protection detail. He refuses to release the amounts paid on credit cards. He claims it will reveal the officers names. Duh…just redact the damn names. No one cares who they are.

    Your comment about burning “bridges” I assume was a pun, lol.

    He played ALL REPUBLICANS for fools!!!

  20. The Bayshore Bulldog said at 6:42 pm on January 24th, 2015:

    If RINO Christie becomes POTUS the first people he’ll invite to sleep over in the Lincoln Bedroom, besides Jerry Jones and Roger Staubach, will be his Democrat masters and mentors George Norcross, Joe DiVincenzo and Brian Stack. Christie owes everything he has to them, without their support and patronage he wouldn’t have gotten passed his first term.

  21. Get your buns ready Haters said at 8:57 am on January 25th, 2015:

    can’t wait to see the same haters on here from 2009
    Eating more crow in 2016.

  22. @get your said at 9:44 am on January 25th, 2015:

    the people commenting here about their disappointment with Christie were huge supporters in 2009. Christie owes everything to us but he has completely turned his back on everyone who worked the street for him in 2009 and 2013. The whole state is saying the same thing. In my opinion, the disloyalty that Christie despises so much when it’s directed at him, will be his downfall in the end.

  23. The Bayshore Bulldog said at 10:16 pm on January 25th, 2015:

    I voted for Mayor Steve Lonegan in 2009, then when Mayor Lonegan endorsed Christie late in the campaign in what is now referred to as “The Lonegan Surge” I and many other Conservatioves held our collective noses and voted for Christie to put him over the top. Without Mayor Lonegan’s endorsement and our votes, Christie would have lost. He owes everything to us, and to Mayor Lonegan, for his “victory”.