January 21st, 2014
08:11 PM ET
9 years 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.

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"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. Vence

    He should step aside as governor too!

    January 21, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. Davo

    Makes perfect sense. A moderate Republic won't get party nod, a crazy bible toting whites-only Republican won't win.

    January 21, 2014 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. RandyK

    Christie threw his staff under the bus and the GOP is now inviting him to join them. Seems like we can stop pretending he's a contender for the nomination and recognize that he's going to spend out his political days floating or sinking in Jersey.

    January 21, 2014 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  4. DarkPoet

    How does someone step aside when they have their own ORBIT? Wouldn't everything just go on tilt?

    January 21, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  5. Dan

    So, here go the different factions of the Repubs vying for power and control

    January 21, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  6. Lee

    But, but... Ben-Ghazi !!! lol

    Hey if Christie is as innocent as he says he is, then he (and the republicans) have nothing to worry about. They should nominate Christie in 2016 with the ex Governor of Virginia as his cell, I mean running mate.

    January 21, 2014 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  7. VA apologizes

    Virginia apologizes, though having lost the gubernatorial race in part to the investigations into his own misconduct (that former GOV McDonnell just got indited on) Cooch would speak from a position of experience.

    January 21, 2014 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  8. Johnny Appleseed

    The Democrats will keep the White House in 2016 unless the Republicans can hire someone to do masterful PR. Between the renegade Ted Cruz and Chris Christie, the swing voters will continue to vote blue or simply abstain.

    January 21, 2014 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  9. Name

    Wow. Shake hands with your sworn enemy when something greater than politics is occurring, and get thrown under the bus. Throwing away their best chance at the Oval Office. What a waste.

    January 21, 2014 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  10. Peter Gerdeman

    Shut up, Ken. You are embarrassing us again, like your election.

    January 21, 2014 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  11. I want NJ and NY to do well.

    isn't this guy involved in a different scandal? in Virginia?

    January 21, 2014 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  12. Steve - Texas

    wow.. i finally agree with Cuchi... i the world is about to end...

    January 21, 2014 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  13. Quixote

    Ha...hoochie coochinellu could be following his old boss to federal prison for his role in covering up mcdonnels crimes. But he would know a criminal governor when he sees one.....

    January 21, 2014 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  14. jbspellsjb

    Step aside... hell ...he's the epitome of GOP standards ...and literally the elephant in the room.

    January 21, 2014 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  15. Namelinda

    Republicans want to throw Christie under the bus because they perceive him as being instrumental in helping them lose the 2012 Presidential election. In reality this is untrue. President Obama election team was smarter than the average Republican!

    January 21, 2014 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  16. tbone

    Cuccinelli would jump in a grave while it's still warm.

    January 21, 2014 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  17. Quixote

    And Terry Was heaps better a candidate than this tool. If it were not for the tea crazies he would not have gotten twenty votes.

    January 21, 2014 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  18. Santi

    Wow!!! Governor Christie is bullying and taking money from other republicans, not just democrats...

    "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."

    January 21, 2014 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  19. David From Canada

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    All the King's horses and the King's men,
    Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

    January 21, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  20. Guest

    Cuccinelli? Oh please.

    January 21, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. veep

    "perception is reality"

    uh, no Ken...

    didn't you just lose?!

    January 21, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  22. Skarphace

    So someone who failed to win a race for governor is trying to tell the governors as sociation who they should have as chairman? Here is a novel thought: why don't you let them decide for themselves, Mr. Loser.

    January 21, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  23. karl from az

    Christie won, YOU lost! Leave him alone.

    January 21, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  24. oh

    Stick a fork in CC. He's done.

    January 21, 2014 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  25. MIke9

    Ken Cucinelli just lost a VA Governor's race to a very weak former fundraiser for the Clintons with almost no experience running anything, SOOOO I'm not sure he is positioned to comment on the fact that Christie does not represent the Governor's well, since he isn't one, and won't be one.

    January 21, 2014 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
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