Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is laying the foundation for a 2024 presidential run after allies established a super political action committee that could give a boost to his long-shot bid to challenge former President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.
Christie plans a formal announcement in the next two weeks, according to a person familiar with his plans.
Tell It Like It Is, a super PAC that trades on Christie’s brash-talking New Jersey brand, will be run by GOP operative Brian Jones, a veteran of the John McCain and Mitt Romney presidential campaigns, according to people involved in the discussions.
Republican National Committee member Bill Palatucci will serve as chair, and veteran GOP consultants Russ Schriefer and Brent Seaborn will advise on messaging and voter targeting.
The super PAC was first reported by the New York Times. Unlike campaigns, super PACs can accept unlimited funds to support candidates with television ads as long as they don’t coordinate directly with the candidate.
Christie has been openly exploring a presidential run for months, appearing in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire and openly criticizing Trump in interviews.
As a former Trump supporter who helped him prepare for debates against Democrats Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, Christie argues that he would be the candidate best positioned to score a knockout blow against the former president.
Christie, 60, ran for president in 2016 but dropped out after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary. He went on to become the first major candidate to endorse Trump and served as chair of his presidential transition team.
Christie later soured on his one-time ally, criticizing him over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“I got off the train when he stood up in the West Wing of the White House behind the seal of the president and told us the election was stolen, because he didn’t have one fact to back it up,” Christie said recently in New Hampshire.
Christie would also be entering a growing field of Republican contenders challenging Trump, complicating efforts for the former president’s opponents to coalesce around one candidate.
Other candidates include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. Former Vice President Mike Pence is also weighing a run.
Trump holds a wide lead over DeSantis, who is seen as his toughest competitor, while the other candidates have struggled to gain traction. The RealClearPolitics average of Republican primary polls shows Trump with a lead of over 30 points on DeSantis, with the other contenders mired in single digits. Christie is at 1% in the polling average.