ALBANY Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino on Tuesday shot back at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's contention that Astorino has little chance against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying that Christie should step down as head of the Republican Governors Association if he cut a deal with Cuomo over the George Washington Bridge scandal.
On Monday night, Christie took the unusual step of knocking a fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate, saying, "We don't invest in lost causes," when asked about whether the association would help Astorino, the Westchester County executive. A poll Monday showed Astorino was down 37 percentage points to the Democratic governor.
Astorino blasted Christie on Tuesday, saying Christie has traveled the country to support other GOP gubernatorial candidates, including in California and New Hampshire, who also are down in the polls. Astorino said Christie himself was an underdog when it first ran for governor.
"Clearly, he could come across the bridge and not just raise money for himself, but raise money for the Republican candidate here – unless he is unable or unwilling because he has an issue that we don't know about with Andrew Cuomo and the Bridgegate scandal," Astorino said in an interview on "Live from the state Capitol with Fred Dicker" on WGDJ-AM (1300).
"And if that's the case and he feels he can't to it, then maybe he should step down as chairman because his role is to raise money for Republican candidates," Astorino continued.
Christie and Cuomo, who both are believed to have had presidential aspirations, have had a good relationship. Even during the Bridgegate scandal that has engulfed Christie's administration, Cuomo refrained from criticizing Christie as they share control of the Port Authority.
When asked about helping Astorino, Christie said Monday, "We don't pay for landslides and we don't invest in lost causes."
NJ.com reported that when Christie was asked about possibly campaigning in New York, he responded, "If the New York race becomes competitive, I'll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there's a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut."
Christie met last November with Astorino and their wives in Arizona, when Astorino was first starting to seriously consider a run for governor.
But the cordial relationship may be over.
"If he's unable to do his job as RGA chair to help Republican candidates, including the one in New York, if there's a side deal or a quid pro quo or a handshake between the two of them, then obviously he can't do his job," Astorino said of Christie and Cuomo.