Jindal, Christie set to lead Republican Governors Association
Rising GOP stars would take turns chairing group if members approve plan
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are slated to lead the Republican Governors Association through the next two election cycles, a post that would give both of the rising GOP stars a national platform to seek the presidency should Mitt Romney falter in November.
Under an arrangement that appears to have the blessing of RGA member governors as well as both the Jindal and Christie camps, Jindal will serve as RGA Chairman in 2013, when the Virginia and New Jersey governorships are up for grabs.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, himself a powerhouse fundraiser, will serve as vice-chairman in 2013.
Then, in 2014, Christie will take over the chairmanship, should he win re-election next November. The former prosecutor has not formally announced that he will seek a second term, but his pursuit of the RGA job for now should put any doubts about his near-term plans to rest.
Jindal would then serve as Christie's vice-chair for the 2014 cycle, when the RGA will have a slew of high-profile seats to defend in states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell alerted the RGA members to the arrangement in an email last week, and most governors seem comfortable with the plan, sources told CNN.
Republicans involved in the discussions cautioned that the RGA membership still has to vote on the tentative arrangement at their fall meeting in Las Vegas in November.
For months, both Jindal and Christie have expressed interest in leading the group, in phone calls and private discussions with fellow governors.
As the current vice-chairman, Christie is technically next in line to lead the group, which emerged under the leadership of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour two years ago as one of the premier fundraising organizations in Republican politics.
Jindal, meanwhile, was set to become Christie's vice-chairman in 2013 and then take over the group in 2014, which is likely to be packed mid-term election cycle requiring a mammoth amount of fundraising and political travel - a demanding but potentially rewarding portfolio for anyone with White House ambitions.
But the natural line of succession at the RGA was complicated by Christie's all-but-certain re-election bid next year.
If Christie were to serve as chairman while simultaneously running for governor, he would be forced to recuse himself from key RGA decisions about spending and strategy.
That bad timing forced party insiders to work out the unusual deal that will vault Jindal straight to the chairmanship in 2013, and then to vice-chairman in 2014 with Christie assuming control over the group.
Jindal was elected to a second term as Louisiana governor in 2011.
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