- Former Gov. Chris Christie says that former President Trump wants the GOP to be the “party of me.”
- Christie rejects such a development, arguing that the party must look to the future in order to win.
- He came to Georgia to campaign for Trump foe Brian Kemp, who easily won his GOP gubernatorial primary this week.
While former President Donald Trump went all-in for ex-Sen. David Perdue in the recent Georgia Republican gubernatorial primary, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie backed incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp.
Kemp, who was elected in 2018 on a conservative platform and with the then-blessing of Trump, fought vigorously to win renomination as his party’s nominee as he sought reelection to a second term — brushing aside complaints from Trump that the governor didn’t help him enough during the 2020 election.
The governor, who has spent nearly four years signing conservative pieces of legislation into law, won the Tuesday GOP primary in a landslide, capturing nearly 74 percent of the vote, compared to roughly 22 percent for Perdue.
At one time, the thought of a Trump-backed candidate performing so poorly would have been unthinkable, but according to Christie — a former two-term Republican governor, ex-US attorney, and onetime close ally of the former president — the party’s focus on the future is long overdue.
“We have to be the party of tomorrow, not the party of yesterday,” Christie told Politico earlier this week as he and other Kemp allies basked in their candidate’s overwhelming victory against Perdue.
While most Republicans are still keenly aware that Trump still wields enormous influence within the party, they also have surmised that the former president is seeking to enact political revenge on onetime allies. Some view that strategy as unwise and disadvantageous to the GOP as it looks to the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential election.
“But more important than that, what we have to decide is: do we want to be the party of me or the party of us?” Christie told the publication. “What Donald Trump has advocated is for us to be the ‘party of me,’ that everything has to be about him and about his grievances.”
Christie and Trump have a long history; the former president’s sister connected her brother with the then-federal prosecutor in 2002 and the two men ran against each other during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.
Trump successfully ran as a political outsider during his first presidential bid, while Christie hoped that his blunt-talking style would earn him votes among the party’s conservative base, especially since he had a record of winning in a state that is solidly blue on the presidential level.
When Trump captured the White House in 2016, Christie reportedly turned down multiple Cabinet positions, but still maintained close ties with the then-president throughout his tenure in office. He even helped Trump prepare for the 2020 presidential debates against then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
After Trump was defeated by Biden in the general election and baselessly blamed his loss on widespread voter fraud, Christie over time morphed into a critic of the Trump campaign’s legal strategy, especially when the Supreme Court in December 2020 declined to take up a GOP-backed lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton over the validity of the results in several swing states.
“The reason the Supreme Court is not taking this is not because of a lack of courage,” Christie said at the time. “It’s for the same reason that every court has thrown this out. It’s a lack of evidence and a lack of any type of legal theory that makes any sense.”