Jeb Bush Turns Up Heat On Chris Christie

With Chris Christie set to discuss a potential presidential bid with his family over the holidays, Jeb Bush’s early moves in the GOP field may ratchet up the heat on the New Jersey governor.

The former Florida governor’s announcement this week that he’s “actively exploring” a presidential bid impacts Christie and his timeline for his own decision because the two have overlapping needs.

That means the fight for money, high-profile backers, and top-flight campaign staffers is on between the heavyweight establishment candidates, and it’s Bush that’s been the more aggressive candidate in the early going.

But Christie, whose term as governor doesn't expire until 2017, is reaching the point where he’ll have to decide to fully take the plunge and leave the job he loves for the national stage. He’s also hamstrung on the fundraising end to some degree because of laws that forbid him from taking campaign cash from firms in his home state while he remains in office.

In a field with more than a dozen candidates presently mulling bids, and one that many view as the strongest Republicans have put forward in years, every dollar is going to count.

“They’re working to corner those donors,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist. “You’re talking about maybe having eight or nine candidates in the race. They’re all looking to have enough money to make it the whole way through, and they’ll all want to go big in Florida, which is hugely expensive.”

“Bush needed the head start, not just from the organizational and money standpoint, but also from the campaign standpoint and reminding people who he is from last time he was on the ballot,” O’Connell said. “Christie hoped his timeline wouldn’t get pushed up, but here it is. This definitely changes the calculus for him.”

Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy