Chris Christie wants to be in charge of Republicans as RNC chair

His first choice — leading the party as president — didn't go over well

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 2, 2016 4:20PM (EST)


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may be out of the running for any spot in President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet, but it appears that he has his eyes on another prize— the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

According to a Politico report on Thursday, Christie has been telling senior members of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team that he would like to be appointed to the post, which is currently occupied by Reince Priebus, Trump's incoming White House chief of staff. In addition to being an early and loyal supporter of Trump's candidacy after ending his own campaign in February, Christie is arguing that his experience chairing the Republican Governors Association and extensive connections with party donors makes him an ideal fit for the position. Perhaps most importantly, Christie wouldn't need congressional approval to fill the RNC post, meaning that the Bridgegate scandal would be less damaging to his chances.

That said, Christie's prospects may be damaged by his deteriorating relationship with the Trump transition team. He was replaced by Vice President-elect Mike Pence as the head of the transition team last month, with some insiders claiming it was because Christie oversaw the process in a chaotic way that involved too many of the very lobbyists that Trump had railed against. Others argued that it was because of the influence of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who some speculate has a vendetta against Christie due to the latter prosecuting Kushner's father back when he was a U.S. Attorney.

Christie also isn't the only person being considered for the RNC chairmanship. Priebus reportedly wants someone from the party establishment like Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, nice of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Steve Bannon, one of Trump's chief strategists, has joined donor Rebekah Mercer in encouraging the selection of Mercedes Schlapp, a former official for the George W. Bush administration. Pence himself has backed Nick Ayers, a Georgia-based political operative who talked with Pence frequently throughout the campaign. RNC official Matt Pinnell and Washington lobbyist David Urban are also frequently discussed as possibilities.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Chris Christie Republican National Committee