January 21st, 2014
08:11 PM ET
8 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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Was it Jesus that said on the cross "It has begun..."?
    Lol!

    January 22, 2014 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  2. Uh-Clem

    The Cooch, telling CC to step down. The very same Cuccinelli who refused to step down from his position of State AG when his election effort for Governor stood on the precipice of legal ambiguity putting him squarely in the single most important position on the decision making process to wrangle out the eventual winner? The say that the perfect definition of the Yiddish term Chutzpah is killing both of your parents, and then begging for the mercy of the court on the basis of being an orphan. Yup, he's got it.

    January 22, 2014 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  3. Quixote

    Since when is coochie nelly a "big wig" in the gop, or anywhere? He was a failed AG who could be facing charges related to his failure to investigate and possible connections to the mcdonnel indictments. He lost in what is usually a republicon state. He is no big wig, just a big mouth.

    That said....he served under a criminally corrupt governor, so he has first hand experience and knows what he is looking at with crispy.

    January 22, 2014 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  4. plain and simple

    Teapublicans will be the downfall of Mr. Christie. Their thirst for power,their blind lust to correct all the perceived wrongs done to the only "true" Americans by the liberal mainstream. That vengeance is their only goal. Christie is too mainstream for that bunch and that bunch has seized control of what was once the republican party.

    January 22, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  5. American

    I am glad the fake conservative is losing steam. We need a real conservative in there that represents at least 40% of America. Christie won too many liberal votes in NJ. that is a bad sign.

    January 22, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    They are going down.
    All of them.
    By their own hands and misdeeds.
    No Democratic Machine necessary.
    These thugs that have raped and violated our country and what it stands for, our economy, the poor, the middle class all so that they might take care of and protect the rich, and further enrich themselves, they are all getting their comeuppance.
    One at a time, one at a time.
    Everything will come to light.
    "Be still and know that I am God...."
    Praise the Lord and pass the popcorn!

    January 22, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "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[RGA] stranded their Republican nominee in Virginia, and with their help we would have had a Republican governor of Virginia," vented one Cuccinelli adviser.
    ---------------------–
    I guess the Cuccinelli campaign must not have been on the mailing list for that "Republican Makeover" memo. Cooch and his running mate were so far to the extreme right that the national establishment had no choice but to look at them from a distance.

    January 22, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  8. rs

    So, let me get this straight:

    The guy whose notions about law and sex were so radical, that he lost the election for Governor in Virginia is now demanding a successfully elected governor, who may or may not have committed any crime (unlike, say Cuccinelli's predecessor) needs to leave the Republican Governor's Association?

    Questions-
    Being a radical loser, does he really have any standing to make that demand?
    Did he ever demand McDonnell to resign for his (now documented) crimes?
    Is Cuccinnelli even relevant?

    January 22, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  9. sifto

    Where does CNN find these fake republicans? Even Newt is getting soft since he has been on CNN...if you guys can't back your colleagues until they are proven guilty, keep your opinions to yourself–thats why Dems are beating you–they stick together, regardless of the so-called crimes...

    January 22, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. Blake Wood

    What a crock. This is news? Ken Cuccinelli is no bigwig–he lost the election for Governor and his record as Virginia's Attorney General was called into serious question during the campaign this past fall. It's similar to CNN's newly formed habit of trotting out Barbara Buono, who lost in a landslide to Chris Christie in November. The theme seems to be "Let's get people who lost elections for Governor and have them pontificate about Chris Christie." It just doesn't make any sense. Why not interview former Republican Governors of New Jersey, such as Christine Whitman and Tom Kean? Nah, that would make too much sense. Instead, they'd probably get someone like former New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli, who resigned under an ethics cloud, and give him a platform to smear Christie.

    January 22, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  11. myway

    Besides being a distraction, Christie's new public image hardly matches his poster boy image of the recent past. Remarkable what a few headlines can do to a popular politician.

    January 22, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Cuccinelli predicted that the Garden State leader may still get advice from other governors to step down as the scandals continue to sink in.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Cuccimama meant to say that Christie may step down as new scandals continue to come to light.
    This is so far from over people can actually stay in line at the concession stands, go to the bathroom, have a cigarrette or two, go back to their car and tailgate, and return to their seats to find people still being sworn in to testify.....
    The woodwork in New Jersey is apparently crawling with people the good Governor has run ramshod over and politically strong armed.
    They seem to be tired and not willing to take another four years of it anymore.....

    January 22, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  13. Goblin King

    Good, we don't need anymore politicians like Chris Christie.

    January 22, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  14. Bill, Bloominton IL

    Dominican momma, and your racism will stand through time. The devil is happy.

    January 22, 2014 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    –thats why Dems are beating you–they stick together,
    -------------------------------------------------
    Nothing would make me happier, but alas, your statement, not surprisingly, is far, far from the truth.
    Dems do not know how to stick together except maybe on this thread.

    January 22, 2014 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Blake Wood wrote:

    "What a crock. ... .. ... It just doesn't make any sense. Why not interview former Republican Governors of New Jersey, such as Christine Whitman and Tom Kean? Nah, that would make too much sense. Instead, they'd probably get someone like former New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli, who resigned under an ethics cloud, and give him a platform to smear Christie."
    -----------------------------
    Torricelli never resigned. He simply dropped out of the race for re-election.

    January 22, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  17. Goblin King

    It seems like everyone who loves Chris Christie are Democrats. That should send major red flags up to all Republicans. He is the new John McCain. Remember under GW Bush, all the Democrats loved McCain and bemoaned the fact the GW Bush got the Republican nomination. If only they would have nominated McCain, the Democrats would have voted for him. Just looking at how as soon as McCain won the Republican nomination in '08 all of a sudden, now he is a huge racist who hates all poor people, or so the Democrats said. Don't be fooled again.

    January 22, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    -sifto

    Where does CNN find these fake republicans? Even Newt is getting soft since he has been on CNN...if you guys can't back your colleagues until they are proven guilty, keep your opinions to yourself–thats why Dems are beating you–they stick together, regardless of the so-called crimes...
    *************************
    I guess the GOPers really are against free will: if the Cooch has decided that it would be in the RGA's best interest for Christie to step down while these matters are being investigated, then he is free to express that opinion. The idea that Cooch is not a " real" Republican simply because he chooses to be civil while expressing his opinion is also indicative of the level of contempt Conservatives have for anyone who is not a ranting cheerleader for the movement. What he is suggesting is in the best long-term interests for the RGA and for Christie, since it would show a level of respect for the process, the party, and the country( let's not forget about the country, shall we?).

    January 22, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Bill, Bloominton IL

    Dominican momma, and your racism will stand through time
    -------------------------------------------------
    Playing the last card you've got left eh?!

    January 22, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Bill Bloominton, IL
    The devil is happy
    -------------------------------------------------
    He is indeed elated with how good a job your ilk has done of following his tenets.

    January 22, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  21. gladiatorgrl

    Can any of these people NAME a "real conservative" that has been in office and what accomplishments they had and PAID for?

    January 22, 2014 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    American wrote:

    "We need a real conservative in there that represents at least 40% of America."
    -----------------------–
    We need a real conservative in there that represents no more than 40% of America.

    FIFY. Actually, the figure is much closer to 1% than 40%.

    January 22, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  23. dirksterdude

    Whether Christie is considered intelligent or not he usually does what he wants to and tells most people "to go away and don't bother me" in his typical hard ball style. I'm sure Christie will take the comments with all due concern and then throw them away.

    January 22, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Goblin King wrote:

    "... ... If only they would have nominated McCain, the Democrats would have voted for him. Just looking at how as soon as McCain won the Republican nomination in '08 all of a sudden, now he is a huge racist who hates all poor people, or so the Democrats said. Don't be fooled again."
    ------------------------------------
    McCain shifted his poltical stance to the right with the help of a provincial politician named Sarah Palin.

    January 22, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. dirksterdude

    The largest group of voters are those that are undecided and for the most part it crosses all party lines and demographics. A total conservative or liberal can't win running just on a party ticket. If Republicans think a conservative can win the White House they are idiots. They have trouble enough finding a moderate that can win elections. Christie appears to be a charismatic moderate and they want him to step down from a prestigious post that may help him win the White House. I think Christie will say not just "No", but "No, and then keep laughing"

    January 22, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
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