POLITICS: PennAve

Chris Christie won't make wholesale staff changes at Republican Governors' Association

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Politics,Republican Party,David M. Drucker,Campaigns,Chris Christie,PennAve,Republican Governors Association

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to retain the senior staff of the Republican Governors Association when he becomes the chairman of the group on Nov. 21, GOP sources confirmed Thursday.

It's not uncommon for the chairman of a political committee to clean house and bring in his own top advisors. But unlike the national party committees, whose chairmen serve for a full two-year cycle, the chairman of the RGA usually holds that post for only a year, a dynamic that places a premium on staff experience and continuity. The current RGA staff is well regarded and replacing them could be disruptive midway through the 2014 elections.

“There are not going to be any staff shakeups,” a Republican familiar with the RGA told the Washington Examiner.

“I’m sure they’ll be some involvement by [Christie’s advisors], but there’s not going to be a wholesale staff change,” added a second GOP source with ties to the RGA.

Christie won re-election Tuesday, and is believed to be laying the groundwork for a 2016 presidential bid. Running the RGA is viewed as an important part of that effort. The job will allow Christie to connect with wealthy Republican donors and party operatives who could help a presidential hopeful build a formidable campaign.

The post also will allow Christie to travel often to key GOP primary states that have gubernatorial races in 2014, including Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and South Carolina. Boosting Republicans in those states could help Christie win over influential friends for 2016.

Christie is a proven fundraiser, and raising campaign cash for the RGA, which isn't restricted by federal contribution limits, will be one of his primary responsibilities.

New RGA chairmen have been known to use consulting firms and political strategists they are comfortable with, and this is an area that could see change as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s reign over the organization ends later this month. But key staff are likely to remain, particularly given the competitive nature of the gubernatorial playing field in 2014.

The RGA staff is led by Executive Director Phil Cox, who was installed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell when he ran the organization. Cox is a veteran of Virginia politics and managed McDonnell’s successful 2009 campaign.

"The RGA has never been a platform to run for president. It's been a platform to put in place friends that can help you run for president eventually," the GOP source with RGA ties said.

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