Conservatives Shun Popular GOP Governor

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New Jersey's Chris Christie is now the eighth Republican governor to back Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. Jeffrey Young, writing for the Huffington Post, gives the details:

Expanding Medicaid in New Jersey would provide new health care coverage to an estimated 291,000 people through 2022, according to an analysis released by the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in November. New Jersey would spend an additional $1.5 billion and receive $15.4 billion from the federal government to finance the expansion during that time period, the report predicted.

Politically, there's no question that this will improve his (already impressive) standing with New Jersey voters. What it won't do is help his case with conservative activists, who are angry enough with his position on guns—he supports a new, restrictive proposal in his state—to exclude him from this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. Here's the National Review with more:

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.

There are two things absurd about this. First, Christie governs in a blue state. If conservatives want a national party, they should allow ideological flexibility. In other words, Republican governors in Democratic states—especially in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic—will sometimes have to adopt Democratic proposals and support Democratic positions.

Second, Christie is the most popular Republican governor in the country. His overall approval rating is 73 percent, his approval among conservatives is 80 percent, and his approval among Republicans is a whopping 90 percent. He also holds a 62 percent approval rating among Democrats, and a 75 percent approval rating among moderates and independents. Simply put, there are few people better positioned to sell the Republican message.

That CPAC will reject Christie—and give Mitt Romney a speaking slot (his future isn't "limited?")—says a lot about the conservative movement's priorities. Note: They have little to do with winning.