David Frum

02.27.13

Chris Christie, the GOP's Most Popular Governor, Not Welcome at CPAC

Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images ()

The most popular Republican in the country - and the only Republican who could hope to put New Jersey's 14 electoral votes into the GOP column for the first time since 1988 - is unwelcome at CPAC.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie was not invited to address the Conservative Political Action Conference because of his position on gun control, according to a source familiar with CPAC’s internal deliberations who requested anonymity to speak freely.

Christie has a “limited future” in the national Republican party given his position on gun control, the source tells National Review Online. As a result, the CPAC insider says, the focus of this year’s conference, “the future of conservatism,” made Christie a bad fit.

Christie, the source adds, is simply not a conservative in the eyes of organizers.

There's a sense in which the CPAC organizers have a point. Governor Christie isn't a CPAC-style conservative. That's precisely why he has been politically successful in New Jersey.

If the Republican party contained a self-conscious modern Republican wing, with its own organizational presence equivalent to CPAC, then it would matter less that CPAC excluded the party's most viable candidates.

As is, however, CPAC remains the only such show in town - and Christie's exclusion sounds an ominous warning about obstacles on the route back to a Republican majority.