Huffpost Politics

Chris Christie Could Face Tea Party Challenger To Reelection Bid

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with his wife, Mary Pat. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with his wife, Mary Pat. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) could find himself with a Tea Party challenger in his bid for a second term this year.

Former Atlantic County Freeholder Seth Grossman (R-Atlantic City) told PolitickerNJ.com that he is considering a challenge to the popular one-term governor in the June Republican primary. A Tea Party leader and radio show host from South Jersey who hasn't run for elected office in over two decades, Grossman indicated he might be willing to take on the governor, who has been playing up his alliance with President Barack Obama on Hurricane Sandy relief in recent months.

"Why would any Republican in his right mind want to support Chris Christie?" Grossman asked PolitickerNJ.com. "Republican voters deserve a choice."

Grossman is allied with former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R), whom Christie defeated by roughly 40,000 votes in the 2009 Republican gubernatorial primary. Lonegan now heads the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-backed group. Grossman currently hosts a conservative talk radio show in South Jersey and founded Liberty and Prosperity 1776, Inc., which he says is "teaching Americans how to think and act like Americans again."

The little-known Grossman will face difficulties mounting a challenge to Christie, as the governor controls much of the state Republican Party machinery and enjoys a sizable fundraising and polling advantage. Under New Jersey's byzantine electoral practices, county political parties can award preferential ballot placement to statewide candidates, with Christie expected to capture those backings statewide. Several county GOP organizations in New Jersey do not award ballot placement. Grossman's move comes days after state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, formally entered the race.

A Christie campaign spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Grossman's candidacy comes as Christie renews his push for more bipartisanship in state government. During a speech last week to the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce dinner in Washington, D.C., Christie said the federal government could learn how to work together by looking at his relationship with Democratic leaders in the state legislature. Christie also used the speech to praise Obama's work on Hurricane Sandy again.

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