TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Allies of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have launched a super PAC that can raise unlimited money toward his likely bid for president and added advisers with experience on former President George W. Bush's campaigns to another committee supporting his political ambitions.
The announcements come as Christie has been struggling to build momentum in the emerging contest. The Republican governor has been overshadowed by rivals, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in recent months. He has also lagged in measures of public opinion, although polls are of limited use this early in the race.
The America Leads super PAC was registered with the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 23, said its executive director, Phil Cox, who worked closely with Christie at the Republican Governors Association when he was executive director and Christie was its chairman last year.
"He's provided effective, conservative leadership in a deep blue state, bringing people together to solve difficult problems and get results," Cox said in a statement. "That's the kind of leadership we need in America today, and we hope he decides to run."
Christie's most vocal cheerleader, Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, said this week he'd already started raising money for the group.
"I know people that are getting ready to write six-figure checks for the super PAC," he said.
Another political action committee — this one not a super PAC — is also staffing up for Christie. The Leadership Matters for America PAC, for which Christie serves as honorary chairman, said Thursday it has brought on three advisers with significant national experience.
They are Brian Jones, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee; Kevin Shuvalov, another Bush alum; and Cary Evans, who worked for Bush in 2004 and has extensive experience in Nevada. Candidate-run political organizations face fund-raising limits that do not constrain super PACS. But the candidate-run PACs can coordinate activities with candidates while super PACs must operate independently.
Joining Cox at the Super PAC will be Paige Hahn, former finance director for the GOP governors group. As well, Meredith O'Rourke, who previously worked for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, will serve as finance consultant, Cox said.