Chris Christie or Jeb Bush? GOP fundraisers consider their options

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a Long Island Association luncheon with LIA President and CEO Kevin S. Law at the Crest Hollow Country Club on February 24, 2014 in Woodbury, N.Y. Andy Jacobsohn, Getty Images

Now that it's clear former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., is seriously considering running for president in 2016, Republican donors who were ready to get behind another prospective candidate, Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., are rethinking their options.

"Those of us that have been dedicated to the Bush family for years would obviously have to take a Jeb candidacy into extremely serious consideration," Fred S. Zeidman, a Texas businessman, told the New York Times.

Zeidman is part of a network of donors with strong ties to the Bush family -- he helped George W. Bush win the White House twice -- but he's also helped Christie build connections to potential financial backers. Like Zeidman, the New York Times found after talking to more than two dozen Republican donors, the GOP's core backers are torn between the two potential candidates.

Neither Bush nor Christie has officially announced whether they're running or not, but if both did, "It would be awkward. It would be very awkward," Christine Todd Whitman, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, told the Times.

Last year, Christie appeared to be the GOP establishment's preferred candidate. Even former First Lady Barbara Bush suggested her son Jeb Bush wouldn't be throwing his hat into the ring.

In January, however, the scandal that erupted over the George Washington bridge lane closures cast some doubt over Christie's potential candidacy. Mrs. Bush and the rest of the Bush family have since said they think Jeb Bush would make a great candidate. Just this Thursday, former President George W. Bush (Jeb's brother) said on CNN, "I hope Jeb runs." He added, "Hey, Jeb, if you need some advice, give me a call."

Still, Republicans aren't counting Christie out. Even while handling the fallout from the bridge scandal, Christie has proven to be an effective fundraiser as head of the Republican Governors Association.

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