Christie Nixes N.J. GOP Chairman Amid Bridge Scandal
Just days after Gov. Chris Christie named his campaign manager to run the New Jersey Republican Party, Christie withdrew his support Thursday amid a scandal over a dayslong September traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge.
The scandal has sent the governor’s administration into turmoil, culminating at a Thursday morning news conference, when he explained his change of heart about former top campaign aide.
“I was disturbed by the tone, and behavior, and attitude of callous indifference that was displayed in the emails by my former campaign manager, Bill Stepien,” Christie said. “As a result, I’ve instructed Bill Stepien to not place his name in nomination for state party chairman, and he will not be considered for state party chairman.”
Christie also ordered Stepien to “withdraw his consultancy with the Republican Governor Association.” In December, Stepien joined the Republican Governors Association as a political adviser on political operations and independent expenditures. Christie was elected RGA chairman in November.
On Tuesday, Christie named Stepien as his pick to take over the state GOP when Samuel Raia stepped down.
“I’ve asked Bill Stepien to be our new State Party Chairman because no one better understands how to grow our party, communicate our message and, most importantly, win elections,” Christie said in a statement announcing his support, per The Newark Star-Ledger. “Bill Stepien is the best Republican operative in the country, and New Jersey Republicans will be fortunate to have him leading our Party.”
New Jersey GOP members are scheduled to vote on the new chairman on Jan. 15, per the Star-Ledger.
Stepien was Christie’s statewide campaign manager in his two gubernatorial races, according to a state party news release from earlier this week. He served as the governor’s deputy chief of staff from 2010 to 2012. He is a former staffer to the presidential campaigns of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
“You cannot have someone at the top of your political operation who you do not have confidence in,” Christie added.
Christie also announced the termination of his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly.