How Chris Christie took over the Republican Governors Association

Story highlights

High-profile job allows Christie to gain foothold in key states, mingle with GOP's big financial backers

Previous RGA chairmen have used the job as a national launching pad

Christie launched behind the scenes phone and email campaign to shake up order of succession

Christie backers say his ever-growing star power will be boon for RGA in a busy election year.

Phoenix, Arizona CNN  — 

There wasn’t room for the two of them.

In the fall of 2012, with the presidential race in full swing, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, two prominent Republican governors with well-known national ambitions, were engaged in a different kind of campaign.

Behind the scenes, both men were aggressively jockeying for a plum political gig: The chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association, a coveted post for any aspiring presidential candidate.

The high-profile job would allow one of them to travel the country, gain a foothold in key states, and mingle with some of the GOP’s leading financial backers – all while controlling a nearly $150 million midterm political budget.

Previous RGA chairmen have used the post as a national launch pad: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney led the RGA in 2006 before his first presidential campaign, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry steered the committee in 2011 before embarking on his own White House bid.

Christie won’t commit to serving full term in New Jersey