January 21st, 2014
08:11 PM ET
3 months ago

Cuccinelli calls on Christie to 'step aside' as RGA chairman

Updated 9:02 p.m. ET, 1/21/2014

(CNN) – A prominent Virginia Republican, Ken Cuccinelli, said embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie should step down from his new role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

The former Virginia attorney general and 2013 gubernatorial candidate said current investigations into suggested political misconduct by top Christie administration appointees would hinder his ability to successfully campaign for GOP candidates.

"I think just from the perspective of setting aside this as an issue in other races, it makes sense for him to step aside in that role," he said on CNN's "Crossfire" on Tuesday.

Watch "Crossfire" weeknights at 6:30pm ET on CNN

"He does not serve the goals of that organization by staying as chairman. And that doesn't mean that any of the charges, political or otherwise are substantive or not. It doesn't matter. Perception is reality."

Cuccinelli, now a former elected official, may have been sorting through some hurt feelings dating back to his loss last November in the Virginia's governor's race.

After their campaign came up just a few points short on Election Night, Cuccinelli and his aides were furious at the RGA for not steering more money into what they thought was a winnable race.

The RGA spent about $8 million on the Virginia race, but stopped running television ads weeks before the election. At the same time, they pumped $1.7 million into Christie's cakewalk of a governor's race in New Jersey - precious money that could have boosted Cuccinelli down the stretch.

"A number of people in the party establishment are going to need to take a hard look in the mirror and think about how they stranded their Republican nominee in Virginia, and with their help we would have had a Republican governor of Virginia," vented one Cuccinelli adviser.

Christie has said previously the uproar in his state would not affect his work for governors nationally. He was in Florida this past weekend helping to raise money for incumbent Rick Scott.

And two Republican governors said recently they still backed him for the RGA post, despite the problems in his state.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, mentioned often as a potential presidential candidate as well, and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said in Washington they had confidence in Christie's leadership.

Christie, a likely 2016 White House hopeful, has come under fire over suggestions top appointees engaged in political “dirty tricks” to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing their boss for reelection last November.

Another mayor has accused Christie higher-ups of holding hostage relief money from Superstorm Sandy until she signed off on a redevelopment plan backed by the governor.

Christie’s camp denies any wrongdoing.

Asked by Crossfire co-host Van Jones why Christie hasn't stepped down from the powerful position, Cuccinelli predicted that the Garden State leader may still get advice from other governors to step down as the scandals continue to sink in.

"Frankly, I think this is still relatively new and he may well step down. I have no idea what his thinking is on that. And he may get some counsel from some other governors along those lines."

Christie took over the chairmanship from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for the 2014 election year in November.

Christie's role as RGA chairman allows him to travel the country, gain a foothold in key states, and mingle with some of the GOP's leading financial backers - all while controlling a nearly $150 million midterm political budget. Previous RGA chairmen like 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have used the post as a national launch pad.

There are 36 gubernatorial races in 2014.

CNN National Political Reporter Peter Hamby contributed to this report.


Filed under: Chris Christie • Ken Cuccinelli • Virginia
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. veep

    "GOP Bigwig" is probably a terrible term to use for Mr. Cuccinelli....

    He was just as dirty and he is now a loser in the GOP party, not a "Bigwig"

    "Nitwit" maybe, but "Bigwig"?!

    January 22, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  2. FactsRBad

    Now the GOP wolves – smelling blood – will feed on their own.

    January 22, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. Jime

    Christie is the only hope the GOP has at winning the general election yet the right wingnuts will not vote for him in the primaries as we saw in the last go round the crazier things you say the better off you are examples Perry, Bachman and the token black republican

    January 22, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  4. stewart

    He wont. its all about him and nobody else

    January 22, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. HaroldLewisBlair

    I am not a christie fan but these scandals against Christie are politically manufactured to throw off the spotlight from BENGHAZI- a new contrived scandal will suddenly appear in our newsmedia every week- You see Hillary is easier to control than Christie-and the super rich power moguls who installed Obama (and his his past history at the cost of millions) are controlling our news media to label Christie as a bully and nobody likes a bully- another scandal will be contrived tomorrow until Christie is crushed-and Hillary will be the mogul selected president-

    January 22, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. Jered

    The GOP can like it or not, but Christie, even with all his scandals is their only hope for 2016.

    Not saying much there. He never was a national candidate (never had the support of the far left or far right). He is a different type of Mitt Romney with a whole lot more baggage. Their choice to develop the pool of candidates. They chose to work on obstruction tactics instead.

    January 22, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Anonymous

    I am a liberal and I am sure Democrats do it also, but why spend 1.7 M on the NJ governors race that Christie was lock to win. It seems like a waste of a lot of money.

    January 22, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. Kelby in Houston, Texas

    Let's be honest, Cucci doesn't want Christie to step aside because of a few recent scandals. The Cooch wants to be RGA chairman and he sees this as an opportunity to advance his career

    January 22, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. Ol' Yeller

    @HaroldLewisBlair

    All I can say is 'Wow... really?' I'm not going to dare ask how these 'moguls' managed to 'manufacture' this mess in Joisey, seeing how it is christie's inner circle who are caught up in it.
    Seems it would have been easier to just take him out as to have gotten his closest advisors to turn on him, yet put forth the perception they are still in his corner. And to go back in time like that and have the Mayor write in her diary... WOW!
    Brilliant (not).
    Crazy (Of course).

    January 22, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  10. Mark

    It is true. tigers will eat their young.
    Republicans are so stupid. The most electable person they have and the tea party wing will do everything they can to shoot him down. they are idiots!

    January 22, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    HaroldLewisBlair

    I am not a christie fan but these scandals against Christie are politically manufactured to throw off the spotlight from BENGHAZI- a new contrived scandal will suddenly appear in our newsmedia every week-
    ----------------------
    Manufactured? Then that would mean that they are not true, wouldn't it? So why would half of the people in his inner circle just suddenly resign, with one taking the Fifth Amendment? Oh yeah, that's right. We don't know why they resigned because Christie says that he didn't bother to ask any of them....and when he did, they'd lied to him.

    January 22, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. Jered

    When will the real estate developers that Christie had contact with be subpoenaed?

    January 22, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. RachaelA

    I don't see these political idiots as republican or democrat anymore. Just a big bunch of blow hards who have massive egos. To me Christie is comparable to that crazy mayor up in Canada. Just in it for himself everyone else be damned. And I don't need the media picking for me who I vote for. That is why I am an independent. I vote based on people and positions they stand for – never party lines. Neither side really cares about the people they represent – but sometimes there are a few who at least try to do the right thing.

    January 22, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  14. Wake up People!

    Actually you can't blame the baggers this time, this is all Chris Christy. His arrogance and bullying ways did this to him. You can't bully your way to the top anymore. We aren't living in the western days anymore.

    Btw, I am loving Christy's swift fall from grace. I hope no one is under him....

    January 22, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. TONE

    They do not like Christie because he hug that black guy who just happens to be the president of the USA, ask Charlie Crist

    January 22, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    -Anonymous

    I am a liberal and I am sure Democrats do it also, but why spend 1.7 M on the NJ governors race that Christie was lock to win. It seems like a waste of a lot of money.
    *****************
    Not if you have come to the conclusion that he is the annointed one: the theory they had was to make him competitive in NY and PA in the general election, provided he won the nomination. I agree its a waste of money, but for very different reasons: the aura of a straight-talking, tough manager is wilting under the glare of national media scrutiny, and the revelations of how badly he managed his staff have certainly crippled him.

    January 22, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  17. Sniffit

    "Let's be honest, Cucci doesn't want Christie to step aside because of a few recent scandals. The Cooch wants to be RGA chairman and he sees this as an opportunity to advance his career"

    Cooch is not a governor, ergo, I don't think he's able to become head of the RGA. What you're really seeing here is the first rumblings of the radicalized far-right Krischun conservative religio-fascist nutjob machine starting to realize this might be their opportunity to eliminate Christie for 2016...who they consider to be Romney 2.0...so they can hopefully get themselves a nominee who is "conservative enough to win", someone for whom they don't have to hold their nose to vote like they did with Mittens. I'm thinking there will be increasing rumblings from that faction as this plays out and the real tell will be when the whackadoo ideologue outfits like Heritage Foundation, Club for Growth, Freedomworks, et al, start to chime in that he's got to do things like this "for the good of the party."

    January 22, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. Switters

    "How Christie could rebound - and come out stronger"

    The question is not "How" – but "Where"..?

    And the answer, of course, is:

    "in a pig's eye"......

    Etymology
    A euphemism for in a pig's arSe.

    (idiomatic) Under very unlikely circumstances; probably never.

    See also
    when pigs fly

    January 22, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  19. Dead Bear

    Some friendly advice to Governor Krispy... Don't bother coming to campaign for or giving any money to the Pa Governor's race. Corbett's dead in the water. Save yourself the time and the money and go get garbage like Abott elected in Texas.

    January 22, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. texasnotea

    The republicans are a mirror image of Jerry Jones. They all know they are the problem but refuse to do anything about the problem. They think they are smarter than anybody else and refuse to apply constructive criticism to fix the problem. In simple terms, the republican party IS the problem. Heart felt thanks from the Democratic Party.

    January 22, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  21. The REAL Truth...

    @HaroldLewisBlair – I am not a christie fan but these scandals against Christie are politically manufactured to throw off the spotlight from BENGHAZI-
    -----------------------------
    there's nothing to see in Benghazi... it's simple.. It was a CIA op, run outside State's control, fronted by Stevens to run guns thru Libya to the rebel forces in Syria. Both sides of Congress already know this, and that is why Issa's witch hunt (along with the other's like the IRS brouhaha) has gone nowhere.
    I could care less whether Krispy is guilty or not.. it's bidness as usual, and to expect the Dem's NOT jump all over it -given how the GOP has treated the POTUS since his inauguration – is the height of ignorance.

    January 22, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Thomas

    He was born to Run !

    January 22, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. PM Ohio

    Even though the business model of the GOP is brilliant...taking control at the state level, to gerrymander and pass social agendas...the egos of the GOP means that they have lost thier ability to produce a good candidate. Michelle Bachman may win in a 99% white conservative district, but it doesn't work nationally since over half the country is non-caucaisian and doesn't share her 1%'er worldview...Christie is the only one who could even compete with Hillary but the egos and pockets of the rich GOP backers, Koch Brothers, and all of the Conservative PACs will put a true conservative against her and lose, or put a conservative-in-name-only candidate up there that eveeryone will see as a fraud. For a Liberal like me, it makes for good TV to sit back and watch who they will parade out of the clown car in 2015-2016.

    January 22, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. rs

    The GOP are eating their own again. Please note Right-wingers: when people say the GOIP is at war with itself- this is what we're talking about. Your party is dying before your eyes.

    January 22, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  25. Eileen

    Ken CooCoo Cuccinelli is calling Christie out for ethics? Am I in some parallel universe? He himself got investigated for accepting gifts from Star Scientific while Lieutenant Governor which landed Ex Governor McDonell and his wife indicted this week?! Beam me up nuw Scotty! The people,us taxpayers of Virginia are exhaling in relief that he wasn't elected Governor. (I'm a moderate republican and I voted for Mcauliffe)

    January 22, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
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