A Republican endorsing another Republican would not ordinarily be news. But some might be slightly surprised to see New Jersey governor Chris Christie — who has done everything short of formally announcing he’ll run for president in 2016 — endorse Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan tomorrow. Lonegan was his rival from the 2009 gubernatorial primary, and Lonegan’s campaign staffers boldly predicted Christie would falter against then-governor Jon Corzine.
For what it’s worth, “experts” are surprised:
Christie will keep safe distance from Booker-Lonegan race, experts say
Fairly or not, many conservative Republicans have seen Christie as the second coming of Jon Huntsman since his embrace of President Obama in the closing weeks of the 2012 presidential campaign, a narrative enhanced by Christie’s criticism of House Republicans and the media’s eagerness to reuse a familiar narrative of celebrating a “moderate” Republican standing up to those terrible right-wing extremists. Refusing to endorse his own party’s Senate nominee — in a race where the outcome of a Cory Booker victory will be extremely hard to prevent — would be a bridge too far. What’s more, taking a side in the Lonegan-Booker race isn’t likely to cost Christie that many votes in the gubernatorial election.
Christie will endorse Lonegan at the Hunterdon County GOP headquarters tomorrow at 4 p.m.
UPDATE: Brandon White looks at the potential make-up of the electorate for the October special Senate election and concludes:
There’s no way to know for certain, but with a popular African American heading up the marquee battle on October 16, and with no one but Steve Lonegan to motivate Republicans to the polls, it seems entirely possible that the special senate race electorate could look as Democratic-friendly as the one from 2012.