TRENTON A national Democratic group that stayed mostly silent during the New Jersey governor's race has begun targeting Gov. Christie as he begins his new role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
The Democratic National Committee released an online ad Thursday attacking the GOP governor and possible 2016 candidate. Christie was set to make his first fund-raising appearance as head of the RGA with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, but bad weather there forced Thursday's trip to be canceled.
The minute-long video criticizes Christie for focusing on reelecting governors like Fallin, who in the ad refers to the DREAM Act as amnesty for illegal residents, and who recently ended the state's spousal benefits for National Guard members to keep same-sex partners from obtaining them.
Christie has said he supports DREAM Act-type legislation in New Jersey but has issues with the current bill. He opposes same-sex marriage but dropped a court appeal and let the marriages go forward in his state.
The RGA chairman's job is to help elect or reelect Republican governors around the country. There are 36 gubernatorial races in the country next year.
"What you will see from us now and going forward, we will be holding Gov. Christie accountable for the candidates he campaigns for," said DNC spokesman Ian Sams. "Now that he has taken on a national role, we have a stronger role to play."
Political analyst Peter Woolley of Fairleigh Dickinson University said it's no surprise that Christie is drawing more political fire.
"They need to rough him up now because he is the poster boy for the Republican Party," Woolley said.
Some New Jersey Democrats have wondered aloud where national Democrats were during this year's governor's race, one of only two such campaigns in the country, which Christie won by 22 points on Nov. 5. Along the way, he secured endorsements from more than 50 elected Democrats and received half the state's Hispanic vote in a race he dominated from the start. His opponent, Democrat Barbara Buono, was largely unknown and generated little enthusiasm.
"Barbara Buono was a flawed candidate. I'm not surprised people didn't want to invest in her," Christie adviser Bill Palatucci said.
Many who supported the Democrat or worked on her campaign expected more help from the national party. The weekend before the election, she campaigned on her own, without a show of support from any of the party's big draws.
The Washington-based American Bridge for the 21st Century PAC also has released a Web ad targeting Christie. The Democratic super PAC-funded video accuses the governor of flip-flopping on a bill granting in-state tuition to illegal residents.
"Maybe someone should have given national Democrats a calendar," Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal mused on Facebook on Thursday morning in a post about the new ads.
Christie indicated his support for the immigrant tuition bill while campaigning for reelection, but afterward said he would not sign the bill that the state Senate passed.
The bill has wide support among Hispanics.
Christie said he wants a bill that does not give financial aid to students living in the United States illegally and that limits eligibility to in-state tuition to students in the United States as of 2012.
New Jersey's Democrat-led Legislature says the bill will land on his desk "as is."