Christie ascends to RGA chairmanship

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took the reigns of the Republican Governors Association on Thursday, succeeding former RGA Chairman and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

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The chairmanship elevates Christie's already prominent profile in the party, and will give him a platform to begin building support for a probable 2016 presidential bid.

In a statement, RGA Executive Director Phil Cox called Christie one of the GOP's "strongest, most effective leaders."

“In a critical year with 36 governor’s races, Republican governors welcome his leadership as Chairman of the RGA, and recognize that his record of accomplishment, broad political appeal, and tireless work ethic will be a tremendous asset in helping to win elections and advancing a message of growth, reform and results," Cox added.

Christie faces a wide and varied electoral map heading into his term as chairman. Republicans are defending 22 governorships, while Democrats are defending 14.

The cycle will give him the opportunity, however, to travel to important early primary states Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, which all feature Republican incumbent governors who could face competitive races.

His position heading up the organization will also put him in touch with some of the GOP's biggest donors and will allow him control over the organization's nearly $150 million budget.

Though Christie hasn't made a presidential bid official, he's widely considered to be preparing for a run following a smashing victory in his reelection fight earlier this month.

Christie said he hopes the formula he used to win, which delivered him a majority of female and Hispanic voters — a remarkable feat for a Republican candidate in a blue state — can be used by other Republicans facing tough races nationwide. The upcoming cycle will test that.

Christie's ascent to group's chairmanship comes as Republicans are touting governors as leaders and examples for the rest of the party.

And at a time of unprecedented discontent with Washington, multiple governors over the past week have remarked that the party should look for one of their own for their presidential nominee in 2016.

Christie echoed the party's praise of its state executives in a statement on his chairmanship.

“All across America, Republican governors are doing what Washington can't: getting the big things done to move our country forward,” he said.

“We’re leading with conviction, making tough decisions and getting the job done in our states. I’m honored to serve as Chairman of the RGA at this important time, and will work tirelessly over the next year to provide our governors and candidates with the resources they need to win.”