Some of Florida's biggest money men will attend the state's various fundraisers for Gov. Rick Scott headlined this weekend by NJ Gov. Chris Christie, with one notable exception: Brian Ballard.
"The guy, as a person, is horrific," said Ballard, a top lobbyist and finance chair of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Like other Romney insiders, Ballard deeply resents Christie for the way the governor sidled up to, and gushed about, President Barack Obama in the 2012 campaign's final days just after Tropical Storm Sandy ruined parts of the Northeast's coastline.
"Charlie Crist got a lot of grief for what was called a hug of Obama. But what Christie did to Obama isn't suitable to say in a family newspaper," Ballard said. "I firmly believe he helped swing that election in Obama's favor just to help himself. I busted my ass for two years raising money and supporting Romney and this guy Christie just wiped his hands of us when we were no longer useful to him."
Ballard said "90 percent" of other major Romney fundraisers outside of the New Jersey-New York metro area "wouldn't touch Christie with a 10-foot pole right now."
Ballard's certainly not the only one in Romney World who despise Christie. There's a reason someone from the Romney campaign leaked the confidential vice-presidential vetting jacket of Christie --and only Christie-- to reporters. Many in the Romney campaign began to dislike him ever since Christie's egocentric Republican National Convention speech where he barely mentioned the GOP nominee.
Asked if his criticisms had more to do with supporting the possible presidential ambitions of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016, Ballard said "No. I'm not a paid assassin." Indeed, if anything, Ballard's public contempt for Christie probably doesn't score any points with Gov. Scott, for whom Ballard lobbies and fundraises.
Still, Ballard's contempt is but one sign that, should Christie run for president in 2016, swing-state Florida will be a hostile place for the candidate in the primary. This is Rubio country. It's also Jeb country (though I still don't think he'll run). And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's people are essentially running Scott's gubernatorial campaign this year.
Ballard said he never planned to attend any of the events headlined by Christie, but the recent flap over "Bridgegate" made his low opinion of Christie even lower.
"Christie probably didn't know his staff was shutting down the George Washington Bridge for political paybacks or whatever," Ballard said. "But the fact is, he had people around him who thought it was ok. And that speaks to his character."