In Baton Rouge to raise money for Louisiana Republicans, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ducked questions Thursday night about whether he will seek the Republican presidential nomination.
Christie addressed the issue in California earlier this week by saying the reason to run for president has to reside within him. He seemed to nix a possible bid for the nomination, but supporters appear hopeful that he will change his mind.
The New Jersey governor swung through a hangar near the Baton Rouge airport for a public rally Thursday before heading to a private residence to raise money for the Louisiana Republican Party’s “Victory Fund.”
Christie was the star attraction for a fundraiser to which tickets topped out at $100,000.
Timmy Teepell, a campaign advisor to Gov. Bobby Jindal, refused to say where the fundraiser was held.
“A bunch,” Teepell said when asked how much money he expected the fundraiser to generate for what Republicans have dubbed the “Victory Fund.”
He said the “Victory Fund” currently holds about $1 million and that the party hopes to raise enough to spend $1.6 million to elect conservatives in the primary three weeks from now on Oct. 22.
The Louisiana Republican Party mingles the “Victory Fund” with other fundraising on finance reports filed with the state. The most-recent report, which covers August, showed the party had less than $450,000 in hand after spending very little money. The GOP’s report on September’s activity is not due until early October.
Christie was jovial with the small crowd that turned out to greet him, telling them to back Jindal’s re-election bid.
“I expect a huge win for Bobby Jindal on election night and if I don’t get it, you don’t want me coming back here with a little Jersey attitude,” he said.
Whenever asked a question by a news reporter, including one from his home state of New Jersey, Christie made eye contact then turned away without speaking.
He joked to the crowd that he had a dull week, a veiled reference to the speculation in the national media about his political ambitions, while casually slipping in stories about dining with former first lady Nancy Reagan.
“I’ve had a slow week. I’ve been very low key,” Christie said.
Christie’s visit to Baton Rouge was designed to generate money for the “Victory Fund,” which Jindal and other Republicans want to use to elect more conservatives to the Legislature and to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Despite Republican majorities in the Louisiana House and the Senate, Jindal failed to convince enough legislators to back his proposals to sell prisons and to merge New Orleans colleges. BESE members have rejected his choice for the state’s next superintendent of education.
U.S. Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, blasted the Obama administration during speeches leading up to Christie’s arrival at the hangar.
Absent from the welcome party was U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La. Vitter is leading his own effort to elect conservative candidates through his six-year-old Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority
A finance report filed with the Louisiana Board of Ethics on Sept. 22 showed the committee had more than $750,000 in cash after drawing contributions from some of the wealthiest people in Louisiana and the country.
According to the group’s financial disclosures, the contributions include:
e_SBlt $75,000 from Phyllis Taylor, whose wealth is estimated by Forbes magazine to be $1.6 billion.
e_SBlt $50,000 from New Orleans business mogul Joseph C. Canizaro.
e_SBlt $100,000 from Kansas-based Koch Industries, which is run by two brothers who are influential in national political circles.
e_SBlt $50,000 from Bollinger Shipyards.
• $100,000 from Mary Van Meter, the wife of a New Orleans-area pediatric emergency physician.
With three weeks remaining before the primary, Teepell said the “Victory Fund” money drive is going well.
Teepell said more money is coming in.