Chris Christie Joins Crowded Field of GOP Candidates Vying for Presidential Nomination
This week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made his long-awaited announcement that he would run for U.S. president in 2016. Gov. Christie joins over a dozen Republican politicians vying for the GOP nomination. Most people assume the winner of that nominating process will face Hillary Clinton, who is the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination.
Since Gov. Christie is the leader of the US state with the most-vested interest in online gambling, we thought an early preview of the candidates and their stance on iGaming might be in order. We here at US Legal Poker Sites also will touch on reasons each might discuss reasons one or more might falter as a candidate. This site has no recommendation or political position, though online gambling is what we cover, so we write with the online gambler’s perspective in mind.
Since Chris Christie is the latest hopeful, we will start with him.
Chris Christie – Governor of New Jersey
Chris Christie once was a front-runner for the Republican nomination, but his poll numbers have declined in recent months. The Bridgegate Scandal is going to hurt his chances, but USLPS does not see the scandal being the biggest problem Christie has.
Gov. Christie seems to have erected enough of a firewall between him and those who caused the traffic jam that he does not appear to be blamed directly. If he were, Christie would have to resign as governor, much less withdraw from the presidential race. Still, enough of his officials knew about the traffic jam’s instigation that it leaves a cloud over his head, if nothing else that he seemed to hire a bunch of corrupt aides who were stupid enough to plan a politically-aimed traffic jam through texts and emails.
Still, the scandal is not going to affect most GOP voters’ opinion of the New Jersey governor. Instead, Christie’s moderate views on social issues is going to be the biggest obstacle to his nomination.
New Jersey is a left-of-center state, like most northeastern US states. For a Republican to hold state office as long as Christie has, that politician tends to have moderate stances on many issues. While that would make Chris Christie a formidable candidate in a general election, it hurts him in the primaries, when Republicans and Independents are the only ones (often) allowed to vote. GOP voters sometimes look ahead to the general election and nominate a candidate based on “electability” (moderate views), but America at the moment is a divided country and the Tea Party is pushing the GOP to the right.
It’s a shame, because no president on the Republican side would be more pro-online gambling than Chris Christie, though he was courted by Sheldon Adelson in 2012–enough so Christie’s stay in Israel became a mini-scandal. One can see him becoming a solid choice for vice president. A more right-wing candidate, especially one from the South or the West, likely would want to balance out the ticket with a moderate choice. Also, Christie would be a bulldog in the VP debate.
Donald Trump – Businessman and Reality TV Star
Donald Trump is making waves as a nominee. He’s been in the race for less than a month and already has insulted the Mexican people, while convincing NBC, Univision, Emmitt Smith (and several other people involved with the Miss Universe pageant) to end their association with him. Interestingly, Macy’s decided to continue selling Donald Trump merchandise, despite a letter-writing campaign calling for Trump’s removal from their stores.
The controversy stems from Donald Trump’s comments about illegal immigrants from Mexico, whom he said are “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
At this point, any random person on the street has as good of a chance to be the next US president as Donald Trump. That opinion is not so much because of this particular scandal, but because Trump does not have the ability to play nice for the American electorate. One gets the idea the former casino magnate runs for president (for a short time) every four years simply to get a little extra attention.
One might imagine Donald Trump being pro-online gambling. At the same time, being a land-based casino mogul does not always assure one supports online gambling. Often, it means just the opposite. Look at Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn for examples of that case.
Rick Perry – Former Texas Governor
Rick Perry holds the record for the length of time served as the governor of Texas. Despite that distinction, he only has a slight chance of winning the Republican nomination. When he ran in 2012, Perry was unable to answer a basic question during a debate, which destroyed his chances within two months of announcing his candidacy. This time, Rick Perry is wearing glasses, perhaps in the hope it makes him look smarter. It won’t work.
That is probably a good thing for online gamblers. Rick Perry comes from a state with one of the largest populations of gamblers. Still, Texas officials steadfastly refuse to legalize casino gambling. Thus, the Winstar and Choctaw casinos, which sit 5 miles across the state border into Oklahoma, have become some of the most lucrative casinos in the world.
Rand Paul – Kentucky Senator
Rand Paul, son of former Texas Representative Ron Paul, is another candidate. Rand Paul would be a solid president from an online gambling standpoint. Though he is associated with the Tea Party and its various social conservative viewpoints, the Tea Party was founded on an anti-tax agenda and it has a serious libertarian wing. Rand Paul has announced he is against Restore America’s Wire Act, which would ban all online gambling in the USA.
Few give Rand Paul a chance to secure the nomination. His connection to the Tea Party paints him as a member of the political fringe. Whether a true libertarian is as wild-eyed of a politician as a social conservative is a matter of opinion, but the opinion which matters is that of the independents and moderates who decide each election. Rand Paul is branded as a right-winger.
Ted Cruz – Texas Senator
When you speak of a Tea Party candidate who is branded as a politcal whack-job, Ted Cruz comes to mind. The Texas senator’s filibuster a couple of years ago was an impressive display of stamina, though somebody could make a 20-minute long YouTube video of the many historical mistakes and logical fallacies he spouted during that 24 hours on the Senate floor.
Besides bearing a passing resemblance to a young Bill Murray, Ted Cruz does not have much to suggest he would win the nomination.
Lindsey Graham – South Carolina Senator
Lindsey Graham would be the most dangerous candidate for the legal online gambling industry in the United States. He is the co-sponsor of Restore America’s Wire Act, which would ban Internet casinos and poker sites in 50 states. Most people believe Sen. Graham is championing RAWA to get a whopping political contribution from Sheldon Adelson.
When he introduced RAWA, Sen. Graham had to use pretzel logic to suggest why a federal ban over 50 states, which would overrule the state laws of 50 legislatures, would somehow equate to championing state’s right. One has to assume Lindsey Graham has better sense than that, so it is actually the charitable interpretation to assume he supports RAWA to get a political contribution.
Once again, Sen. Graham has a long history in the US Senate. He comes from one of the most conservative states in the Union and is not known for a high level of charisma. Few things point to the idea Lindsey Graham will win the nomination.
Marco Rubio – Florida Senator
While we’re on the subject of RAWA, it should be noted Marco Rubio signed on a co-sponsor for the bill last week. That decision, as he was set to announce his candidacy, came just in time to seek a donation from Sheldon Adelson. While he’s a handsome guy who’s likely to appeal to many Republicans, Marco Rubio has been dubbed the “Crown Prince of the Tea Party”. Twice, he received a 100% rating from the American Conservative Union.
Online gamblers have to hope Rubio does not win the nomination, because he was against gambling in Florida and he is definitely against online gambling in the present. Luckily, Marco Rubio is so far right that most Republicans are likely to see his as unelectable in a national election.
Bobby Jindal – Louisiana Governor
Bobby Jindal is the current governor of Louisiana, a position he has held since 2008. Bobby Jindal is a smart, likable candidate who is a trailblazer in many ways: he was the second person of East Indian descent to be elected to Congress. Jindal impressed many observers with his early appearances on C-SPAN and other political programs, though he failed to impress when he was allowed to give the GOP rebuttal to an Obama State of the Union Address.
A devout Catholic who was elected as a right-of-center moderate, Bobby Jindal has edged towards more conservative views for the past 10 years. He is thought to be a solid candidate, but it is unknown whether the Republicans are in a mood to nominate someone with an ethnic identity–however well-qualified he is. Online gamblers would likely be happy to see Jindal passed-over, because he holds social conservative positions.
Jeb Bush – Former Florida Governor
The candidate leading the polls at the moment is Jeb Bush, the brother of the former President George W. Bush and the son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush. One has to imagine Jeb Bush would be hurt by his family connections, but that might not be the case. “Bush” represents a brand name in American politics, for better or worse.
Also, Jeb Bush and his family’s many friends represent a huge potential donor base. They also have unparalleled electoral experience and know-how on their side.
Former Gov. Bush is a major threat to win the nomination, even if Republicans have been trying for 7 years to make the rest of America forget the Bush Years. Moderates and independents are not likely to vote for Jeb Bush if he were nominated, because the Bush family is synonymous with political mediocrity at this point. Still, in a field full of Donald Trump and a gaggle of Tea Party candidates, the respectable Bush brother might look like a winner.
Jeb Bush likely would not be kind to the online gambling industry. The Bush family appeals to fundamental Christian and other social conservative voters, so he would not likely be friendly to the cause.
Mike Huckabee – Former Arkansas Governor
Nearly ten years after his stint as Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee is better known to many people as a FoxNews host than a politician. Huckabee is a perennial contender for the Republican nomination. As a former Southern Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee represents the core traits of a social conservative. He is not likely to support online gambling.
Rick Santorum – Former Pennsylvania Senator
Rich Santorum is an arch-conservative paragon. He combined conservative economic policies with a hands-on government approach towards social issues. In 2011, he was quoted as saying, he would “fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement”.
Santorum went on to elaborate, saying the right-wing libertarians “have this idea that people should be left alone”, but “that is not how traditional conservatives view the world”.
While I’m sure Rand Paul or Ron Paul would try to correct Rick Santorum on the history of the conservative movement, that is not the role of this article. Our concern is government policies on online gambling, and Rick Santorum would certainly support a ban on online gambling, if he had a policy.
Ben Carson – Maryland Pediatric Neurosurgeon
Dr. Ben Carson is an impressive figure. The author, Washington Times article writers, and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head. The 51-year old is a popular conservative figure who has served on the board of directors of Costco, the Kellogg Company, and the Academy of Achievement.
One can only speculate on Dr. Carson’s stance on online gambling, but given his stance on same-sex marriage, evolution, gun control, and cannabis legalization, one can only assume he has a social conservative point-of-view towards gambling.
Carly Fiorina – Texas-Based Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard
Carly Fiorina was one of the first prominent CEOs of a tech corporation. Her time at Hewlett-Packard is controversial. Fortune Magazine in 2005 described her as one of the most powerful women in the world. Later that year, Fortune called her one of the worst CEOs ever for what they considered her bungling of the HP/Compaq merger. USA Today, CNBC, and Steve Tobak of Inc.com concurred.
Fiorina’s position on drug policy and illegal immigration are progressive, but she holds hardline conservative positions on same-sex marriage and climate change. Such a mixed bag makes it hard to determine her viewpoint on online gambling. As a former tech executive, one would hope Carly Fiorina would have an expansive view of what the Internet should entail. Until she gives her opinion on the issue, that is mere speculation.
George Pataki – Former New York Governor
George Pataki was a firm advocate of Native American casino gambling in New York during his term as governor of that state. That is why it is disappointing to see Pataki go on the Michael Medved show to discuss “the evils of online gambling“. Besides Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, Pataki has come out strongest in support of Restore America’s Wire Act of all the Republican candidates. End of story.
It should be noted that Skip Andrews, Michael Bickelmeyer, Kerry Bowers, Dale Christensen, Brooks Cullison, John Dummett Jr., Mark Everson, Jim Hayden, Chris Hill, John Kasich, Michael Kinlaw, Dennis Michael Lynch, K. Ross Newland, Michael Petyo, Brian Russell, Jefferson Sherman, and Scott Walker (exploring) are all named as potential candidates.
Most of the candidates for the Republican nomination in 2016 are either against online gambling or have no stated position. Of those who have a stance, Rand Paul and Chris Christie are the only one who are against Restore America’s Wire Act. Otherwise, it is a mine-field of politicians who look at the issue as more of a social problem than a legitimate form of business. While several of the candidates might surprise once in office, Christie and Paul are the best bets for those who like online gambling.
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