GOP darling Christie to visit Vermont
By Neal P. Goswami
VERMONT PRESS BUREAU | November 08,2013
Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, center, stands Thursday in a hallway at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Christie will be the featured guest at a Vermont GOP fundraiser next month.
MONTPELIER — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, invited to the state by a moderate group within the Vermont GOP, will be the featured guest next month at the party’s “Welcome Winter Gala” fundraiser.
The event, hosted by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Stowe Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, is being held at the Robert E. Miller Expo Centre in Essex Junction on Dec. 11. A digital invitation featuring Christie’s name was distributed to party members Thursday morning and promises Vermont food, beverages and entertainment.
Christie cruised to re-election Tuesday by a comfortable margin — 60 percent to 38 percent — over his Democratic challenger Barbara Buono in the blue-leaning Garden State. The governor, known for speaking bluntly and being unafraid to clash with conservatives in his own party, is widely viewed as a contender for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016.
“I think his style is interesting and exciting. Speaking his mind, I think, is refreshing,” Scott said Wednesday.
Scott took a lead role in organizing next month’s event after having been critical of conservative Republican guest speakers at previous GOP events. Recent fundraisers have featured Steve Forbes, who ran for president in 1996 and 2000, and Maine’s tea party-backed Gov. Paul LePage, who was raising money for Randy Brock, the GOP’s unsuccessful 2012 gubernatorial candidate.
“It was suggested that I should maybe organize one myself if I thought I could do better. So, I took the challenge,” he said.
Scott said he and a team of moderate Vermont Republicans looking to re-brand the state party decided that Christie, somewhat of a maverick and moderate on the national GOP stage, would be appropriate for Vermont. Scott said he hopes Christie’s visit will serve as the launch of a new direction for the Vermont GOP, turning away somewhat from the national party.
“Chris Christie’s name came up a number of times, and Heidi had a connection … in New Jersey,” said the lieutenant governor, who is engaged in an intra-party battle for control of the Vermont GOP that will likely culminate this weekend when the party holds its state convention and elects new officers.
“It was to bring something new and refreshing,” Scott added. “I’ve been working with a group to try and change the direction of the party and re-energize and re-focus. We thought that this was a good way to kick that off.”
Scott said there are some similarities between Vermont and New Jersey. Both are blue states, and New Jersey, recovering from Hurricane Sandy, faced challenges like Vermont did following Tropical Storm Irene.
“I think there’s a lot of political similarities between New Jersey and Vermont,” Scott said. “There’s some similar stories in how they resurrected and what they had to go through. I just think we can certainly see some common bonds there.”
Christie is slated to take over the Republican Governor’s Association next year. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, meanwhile, heads the Democratic Governor’s Association, setting up a head-to-head political showdown as the two promote gubernatorial candidates across the country ahead of the 2014 election.
“It should make for some interesting one-liners. I think they are both very quick on their feet,” Scott, a member of Shumlin’s cabinet, said.
Tickets to the fundraising event are set at $50 per person. For $1,000 couples can attend a private reception with Christie before the cocktail hour and dinner.