Chris Christie 2016 presidential campaign shows signs of igniting as top RNC fundraiser steps down

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Gov. Chris Christie. 
(Aris Economopoulos/NJ Advance Media)

By Matt Arco | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

TRENTON — The Republican National Committee’s top fundraiser is stepping down this week as Gov. Chris Christie edges toward a 2016 presidential campaign.

Ray Washburne, the Texas-based fundraiser who was named national finance chairman in 2013, will be leaving his post, the RNC confirmed today.

The Associated Press reported that Washburne is preparing to join a prospective Christie campaign. Washburne told the AP he won’t hold the position “at the end of the week” but declined to comment further because Christie has yet to announce whether he’ll run for the White House in 2016.

Christie could signal he is making moves toward a presidential run before the end of the month by kick starting fundraising for a national run.

Mike DuHaime, Christie’s chief political adviser, declined comment today.

Washburne served as national finance co-chairman of Tim Pawlenty’s 2012 presidential campaign before working as Texas finance co-chairman for Mitt Romney’s White House bid.

Christie’s timetable to decide on a presidential bid may be pushed up because of steps made by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to launch a run. In addition, Romney told donors last week he is considering running again.

A Republican mega-donor and longtime Gov. Chris Christie cheerleader, Kenneth Langone, is hoping to convince other GOP donors New Jersey’s governor should move to the Oval Office. The billionaire businessman and co-founder of Home Depot, is organizing a dinner for Christie in New York City later this month to drum up support for a 2016 campaign.

Christie has also been traveling the country this month to congratulate fellow GOP governors on their November victories. The travels, which include touching down in some presidential battleground states, have included at least one “meet and greet” with Republican power brokers.

When Christie heads to South Carolina, home to the first presidential primary in the South, on Wednesday, he’ll meet with business leaders, state lawmakers and other prominent Republicans.

Christie is also flying to Iowa, home of the nation’s first presidential caucus, twice this month.

He's scheduled to end his inaugural tour with a stop in Maryland on Jan. 21.

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