Governor Bill Haslam will be the next leader of the Republican Governors Association, succeeding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the group’s chairman.
“He emerged as a true pioneer when he took office, and his commanding victory this past election shows that his reform-driven approach is working for Tennessee,” Christie said in a statement following the announcement.
The RGA’s role is to try to forge consensus among the state’s top Republicans and also to raise money for the party. Analysts say Haslam, a multi-millionaire with wide popularity in Tennessee, is a natural pick.
Because several of the lead governors have presidential aspirations, the position was less hotly contested than in years past, according to Time. “RGA insiders say it would be a faux pas for a governor with eyes on the White House to seek the post, which allows governors to travel the country on the RGA’s dime to raise money for their colleagues,” according to the magazine.
During Christie’s one-year stint as the RGA Chairman, he zigzagged around the country raising some $100 million for candidates. After the midterm elections, the number of GOP governors grew from 29 to 31, which is the highest number of Republican state leaders in decades.
“Republican governors are the standard bearers of truly meaningful reform, and from coast to coast, we’ve proven to be principled problem solvers, willing and ready to do what Washington has not,” Haslam said. “No one is achieving better results than our Republican executives in the states.”
Christie was criticized during his time as RGA leader for spending almost half his time outside of New Jersey campaigning for other candidates. A Haslam spokesman said the governor will not be in Tennessee less often with his new role.