By Jessica Huseman
The Republican Party and young tech magnates usually don’t go together. But these two characters are, shall we say, larger than life.
Facebook’s (in)famous Mark Zuckerberg has announced he will throw a fundraiser for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ahead of his reelection campaign this year — though I think we can all guess what this means for his prospects in 2016.
But, for Christie’s political future, this fundraiser means more than just a few hundred thousand dollars — it reinforces the fact that Christie’s appeal stretches beyond the typical constituency of the Republican Party and out to, say, 20-somethings in Palo Alto. The rest of the GOP might be able to learn something from Christie’s appeal to young voters.
With a sky-high 69 percent approval rating and a fundraising campaign that seems powered by rocket fuel (he’s raised $2.1 million in only a month), it’s obvious that Christie’s straight-forward approach and willingness to take on his own party is doing wonders for his future. It’s also making it more difficult for Democrats to put forth a comparable challenger.
Zuckerberg first met Christie in 2010 when he donated $100 million to Newark Public Schools, and the two — as well as Cory Booker — have been championing education reform in the state ever since. The fundraiser, which will be held at Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto home next month, is a continuation of that.
“Mark and [his wife] Priscilla have worked closely with Governor Christie on education reform in the Newark school system,” Sarah Feinberg, a spokesperson for Facebook, told Buzzfeed. “They admire his leadership on education reform and other issues and look forward to continuing their important work together on behalf of Newark’s schoolchildren. Mark and Priscilla are happy to host him at their home to support his reelection.”
This no-holds-barred approach to education reform has received mixed reviews, but the no-fuss attitude the governor approaches his position with — and his ability to cross party lines — has won him serious kudos. He’s sprung from an almost literally unknown in 2011 to a national figure poised to challenge even the most daunting of candidates in 2016.
So if Christie can win over roughly 70 percent of his constituency with his in-your-face demeanor, what’s stopping the rest of the Republican Party from doing the same? While the GOP looks for answers via a largely useless soul-searching committee, Republicans may have the answer sitting in front of them.