[Update] – (I was able to verify the information with a NJ county GOP official – read the comments from Mr. Crone below)
This Facebook post by Camden County, NJ Republican Municipal Chair Tom Crone indicates that NJ Governor Chris Christie required that Donald Trump be promoted above other candidates on the ballot, and that there would be “political consequences” for not going along with Christie’s demands:
Camden County GOP chair Tom Booth had a conference call with municipal chairs earlier this month informing them that after receiving word from Governor Christie he would be endorsing Donald Trump and awarding the county line to him.
No discussion was had and no vote was taken. The call was not to seek input but to declare. Chairman Booth made it clear that jobs and appointments were more important than qualifications or integrity of candidates to be endorsed and that it was clear there would be political consequences if he did not go along with the Governor’s demands.
Any of the other municipal chairs on that call will back me up on what I am saying.
I spoke to the author of the message on Facebook. Mr. Crone verified that the conference call was made with the County GOP officials. Mr. Crone defined the “County Line” as basically a promotion of a candidate in the first “line” or column on a ballot – and the ones most certain to get voted for. Here is what he said:
As for the “county line” that is a New Jersey thing. This is the official Republican or Democrat column or line on the ballot usually column 1 or 2. Typically all endorsed candidates will be listed from highest office to lesser office. Other slates of candidates are pushed further out on the ballot. In NJ having the county line practically insures success for those candidates. It’s not the endorsement itself, it’s the shady way it was awarded. Other counties held conventions or events with presidential candidate surrogates involved. In Camden County the chair acted unilaterally and behind closed doors, never speaking to the campaigns.
This sounds like it could be a potential election violation.
The Washington Examiner has been writing about this recently, claiming that Christie plans to walk into the convention with a group of 51 NJ delegates that he can use as a bargaining chip. According to the article, the delegates that are being lined up are luke-warm for Trump, so that Christie can tell them which way to go if he makes a better deal.