Home>National>Robson Fundraiser for Chris Christie Flexes Establishment Muscle

Invitation to fundraiser for Chris Christie, featuring a host committee of well-known GOP names. (Obtained by Arizona Globe)

Robson Fundraiser for Chris Christie Flexes Establishment Muscle

Ducey and Kyl chair event at home of Trump supporter turned never Trumper

By Arizona Globe Staff, October 4, 2023 3:29 pm

This site has covered an emerging dynamic that exists among Arizona Republicans. Broadly stated, there’s a tug between Trump-supporting MAGA Republicans (derisively called crazies by their opponents) and establishment Republicans (derisively called RINOs by their opponents). We believe we can get through a discussion of this dynamic without name calling.

Last week, one of the national leaders of the anti-Trump faction came to town. Karrin Taylor Robson hosted a fundraiser for former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. After Christie’s candidacy for president in 2016 failed, he supported Trump enthusiastically, endorsing him, helping to train him for debates, and even briefly leading Trump’s transition team following his win in 2016. Eventually, Christie turned on his former friend and endorsee and antagonizing him on the airwaves. Now Christie is running for president explicitly on an anti-Trump message and he’s been supported by no less an expert on Trump hating than George Conway.

Chris Christie. (Photo: Kevin B. Sanders for Arizona Globe)

The invitation, obtained by Arizona Globe and pictured above, features a host committee of heavy hitters from Arizona’s establishment wing. Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill, auto dealer Jim Click, former Gov. Doug Ducey, developer Michael Kasser, and former US. Sen. Jon Kyl joined Karrin and Ed last Monday at the Robson home in the posh Biltmore Estates section of Phoenix.

Ducey had endorsed Robson in last year’s governor’s race, alongside Mike Pence, while Trump endorsed Kari Lake, in what inevitably established the “insider vs outsider” dynamic now blossoming in the state.

And now, those who wish to hear more from the former governor of New Jersey had the chance to pay $3300 and meet him at the Robson home. Also on the host committee was Cardinals owner Mike Bidwell, whose warm welcome of the Dallas Cowboys-obsessed New Jerseyan may raise some Arizona eyebrows.

This has been a rapid evolution for Ms. Robson. Just as Christie evolved from key Trump endorser to coiner of such brutal jabs as “Donald Duck,” so too has Robson undergone a remarkable transformation. Just last year, she ran for governor as a MAGA acolyte whose ads decribed her as a “true Trump supporter.” She endorsed the audit of the 2020 and said during the GOP debate, “I believe our election was absolutely not fair.”

On Tuesday, the Arizona Globe reached out to Ms. Robson for comment at AZ Strategies, where Robson is president. We were initially told by Robson’s assistant Vicky that Ms. Robson would phone us back to provide color on the attendance and what messages were delivered. Vicky asked about our deadline and other information about the publication. When Robson still hadn’t called by deadline, we called back and were told that they’d never heard of the Arizona Globe. What a shame! This story will be updated if Ms. Robson returns request for comment.

Meanwhile, Christie is polling in 6th place at only 3.1 percent in national surveys. He seems to be enjoying a bit more hope in New Hampshire –4th place at 9.8 percent in the second-voting state, and always a bastion of hope for maverick Republicans. That’s where McCain resuscitated his 2008 campaign, and of course Trump himself notched his first primary win in there in 2016 after a close loss to Ted Cruz in Iowa.

One of the other hosts last week was Mike Kasser, the founder and chairman of Holualoa Companies, the developer and operator of multifamily properties in Arizona, California and Hawaii. Unusually for someone hosting a Republican candidate for president, Kasser has given repeatedly to Democrats, including over $500 to Biden in 2020, $5000 to Mark Kelly since 2020, large donations to other Arizona Dems like Marco Lopez and Aaron Lieberman, plus random lefty gifts like over five figures to the Connecticut Democratic Party and a whopping $25000 to Yes on 308, which advocated for undocumented high school students to attend Arizona colleges and narrowly passed last November. Kasser has one of the most entertaining corporate bios you’ll ever meet, noting that he’s an Ironman Triathlete who speaks five languages.

Neither Kasser nor his wife Beth Kasser appear in Christie’s Q2 reports but perhaps they’ll show up in Q3, which should be viewable in a few days. And according to Jessica in Mr. Kasser’s office at Holualoa, Mr. Kasser did not attend the Christie event that featured his name on the invitation. “We’re not aware of anyone from Tucson who attended,” she told the Globe.

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