SAN FRANCISCO - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that his own victory in a Democratic-leaning state in 2009 is evidence a Republican can win the governorship in California, but he stopped short of committing resources from the Republican Governors Association to the state's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Neel Kashkari.
"No one thought I was going to win in 2009," Christie, chairman of the RGA, told reporters at a flower store in San Francisco. "I'm out here to support Neel to let him know it can happen, but what you have to do is reach out to everybody."
The appearance was Kashkari's first major event since advancing from the primary election last week, defeating tea party rival Tim Donnelly. But Kashkari faces an uphill climb against incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown. Kashkari finished about 35 percentage points behind the third-term Democrat in the primary election, and Brown enjoys a massive fundraising advantage.
Christie, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, overcame a Democratic registration advantage to win election in New Jersey in 2009. His opponent, Jon Corzine, was highly unpopular, however, while Brown's job approval ratings are soaring.
Christie was in California raising money for the governors association. He suggested any direct financial assistance to Kashkari is not imminent.
"I will do whatever is possible for us to do to make this race competitive," Christie said. "Now, at the end of the day it's up to him. You know, as I said before, each race is up to the individual candidate. And what the RGA can do is when we have a close race we can be the folks who help to push that person over the finish line. He's got work to do. He knows he's got work to do. He didn't just wake up this morning, OK? He knows how difficult this race is. But I believe he's going to do the work, and when he does do the work you're going to see not only the RGA but lots of Republicans across the country, when they see an opportunity to win here in California, are going to be really rushing here to try to make that statement."
PHOTO: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie campaigns with California Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari in San Francisco on June 13, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders