Jan 25, 2013 Comments Off Spit Stixx
UPDATED | Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has gained an ally in the blue-leaning Silicon Valley in his bid for a second term: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The California tech mogul — who has been measured in his public embrace of politicians as his company plays an emerging role in politics — will host a fundraiser next month as part of Christie’s first out-of-state campaign trip.
Zuckerberg first met Christie in 2010 after making a $100 million donation to Newark’s public schools, and the two have maintained regular contact since. As their friendship evolved, the 28-year-old billionaire expressed an interest in helping Christie as he embarked on a run for a second term, and both camps agreed on the February event.
When Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan offer to host a fundraiser for you, you say, ‘Yes sir, what time?’ ” the governor told reporters on Thursday.
“Mark and (his wife) Priscilla have worked closely with Gov. Christie on education reform in the Newark school system,” said Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg. “They admire his leadership on education reform and other issues and look forward to continuing their important work together on behalf of Newark’s school children.”
Zuckerberg and Chan will hold the evening fundraiser on Feb. 13 at their home in Palo Alto, Calif. The event is believed to be the first time the billionaire mogul has hosted a campaign event at his home, and the guests will draw from the couple’s circle of friends and colleagues.
Donations are the maximum of $3,800, New Jersey’s legal limit per election.
“Mark and Priscilla doing an event at their house is indicative of Gov. Christie’s appeal. He’s certainly a unique leader,” said Mike DuHaime, the governor’s campaign strategist.
At a news conference Thursday, Christie said he has previously visited the Facebook founder while campaigning for Mitt Romney in California. He and his wife, Mary Pat, also stayed with Zuckerberg and Chan during another visit to Facebook headquarters.
The two couples have becme “good friends” over the last three years, Christie said.
The governor has mixed with technology leaders during stops at the Allen & Company conference in Sun Valley in 2011 and 2012, but DuHaime said his relationship with Zuckerberg was “unique.”
In the past, Zuckerberg hasn’t been overtly public about his political leanings. His electoral registration lists him as having no party preference, though he voted in the 2008 and 2012 general elections, according to the Santa Clara County’s registrar of voters.
But Zuckerberg has shown enthusiasm for President Barack Obama, attending a dinner with him and other tech executives in 2011. Facebook also hosted Obama for a streamed town hall in 2011 at its company headquarters. Christie also was a town hall guest at Facebook later that year.
DuHaime said it was a sign of Christie’s bipartisan popularity that Zuckerberg would back a Republican. Recent polls have shown record approval for Christie, including among Democrats.
“It’s indicative of how strong his appeal is across the political spectrum,” DuHaime said.
Facebook is benefiting from an increasing amount of political advertising from both parties, and the company has been careful to donate to both sides of the aisle through its political action committee, Facebook Inc PAC.
The PAC raised $267,000 from 57 contributors last election cycle, including $10,000 each from Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Donations to prominent Democrats included Sens. Chris Coons, Dick Durbin and John Kerry, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelsoi. Republicans who benefited included House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, along with Sens. Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz.
During the multi-day California trip, Christie will hold fundraisers at several other stops across the state, DuHaime said. Figures released Tuesday showed the Republican governor had raised more than $2 million through December, one of the largest hauls this early on for a declared candidate who is not self-financing.
The Democratic Governor’s Association has called for Zuckerberg to forgo the event and attacked Christie as a “right-wing Republican darling” in an online petition on the matter Thursday.
Notably, the petition was posted on Facebook, and had received 333 likes and 103 comments as of Thursday afternoon.