New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wraps up a three-day fundraising swing through California on Wednesday with a stop at the Palo Alto home of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is helping the Republican lawmaker raise cash for his bid to win a second term in November.
The Facebook CEO announced last month he would host a finance event for Christie because he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, admired the New Jersey governor’s stance on “education reform and other issues.” The two first met in 2010 when Zuckerberg donated $100 million to improve schools in Newark, N.J.—a troubled state-run school district where Christie has championed reforms.
Zuckerberg’s decision to help the GOP governor has come under fire from Democrats in New Jersey, including groups angry over Christie’s veto of a gay marriage bill last year and what they view as anti-union efforts.
Last month, Garden State Equality, a civil rights organization, ran an ad urging Zuckerberg to “unfriend” Christie and cancel the fundraiser.
The Facebook executive's fundraiser marks his first notable foray into national politics. While Zuckerberg hosted President Barack Obama at a Facebook town hall in 2011 and was later invited to a White House event with other Silicon Valley executives, he hasn’t been a prolific political donor. According to Federal Election Commission records, Zuckerberg has made just two political donations in the past: two $5,000 checks to Facebook’s political action committee.
Christie’s campaign has not said how much the governor expects to raise at the Zuckerberg event, and a Christie adviser didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Over the past two days, Christie has also held fundraisers in Santa Barbara, Beverly Hills and La Jolla—all home to some of the biggest GOP donors in the country—as he seeks to stockpile cash for his re-election bid. But the finance event with Zuckerberg is also likely to fuel more speculation about Christie's potential 2016 presidential run. The fundraiser could help the governor make valuable inroads with political donors in Silicon Valley—who increasingly have been a major source of campaign dollars in recent years.
Asked last month about his upcoming event with the Facebook founder, Christie told reporters, “When Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan offer to host a fundraiser for you, you say, ‘Yes sir, what time?’”