As Christie dismisses Cuomo's opponent, potential 2016 rivals step in

Gov. Christie’s statement this week dismissing a New York Republican gubernatorial candidate’s campaign as a “lost cause” prompted the candidate, Rob Astorino, to suggest that Christie step down as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Now the controversy has apparently drawn in several Republican governors – and potential Christie rivals in a 2016 presidential race – who have thrown support to Astorino, the candidate said Thursday. The announcement comes after Christie indicated the RGA would not devote resources to Astorino's campaign against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo has been leading Astorino, the Westchester County executive, in polls by a margin as large as 37 points.

While Christie said the RGA wouldn’t get involved in Astorino's race unless it became competitive, Astorino said on an Albany radio program Thursday that four other Republican governors – Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Mike Pence of Indiana – “have committed to helping out” and would come to New York.

Astorino was in Aspen, Colo., where the RGA has been meeting the past two days.

Asked Monday whether the RGA would get involved in Astorino’s race, Christie, who was in Connecticut with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, said it was unlikely because the race was not competitive.

“We don’t pay for landslides, and we don’t invest in lost causes," Christie said.

In June, Christie went to New Hampshire – home to the first presidential primary – to campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein, who trailed Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan by 26 points in a recent poll.

At a press conference Tuesday in New York, Astorino said Christie should consider stepping down from the RGA, an Astorino spokesman confirmed.

Astorino also questioned whether the George Washington Bridge controversy had played a role in Christie’s avoiding a campaign against Cuomo, saying, “I don’t know if there’s a connection between him and Andrew Cuomo on Bridgegate,” according to a report in the New York Daily News.

Astorino said on Thursday’s radio program that he had not presented that idea to other governors in Aspen.

“I think everyone recognized the statement Gov. Christie made was probably not beneficial,” he told talk radio host Fred Dicker.

Astorino said he met “very briefly” with Christie in Aspen, and “we kind of agreed to disagree on this one and move on.”