The former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, is no stranger to sharing his thoughts on elections in which he is not directly involved. But the vocal supporter of Pres. Trump had no idea he was doing just that when he recently shot a video on Cameo, the website where people pay celebrities for personal messages. As it turns out, the video he shot when he thought he was gently teasing a former Jersey resident for moving to Montana was actually a politically motivated prank by Democrat Mike Cooney on his Republican opponent for governor Greg Gianforte.
Cooney shared the message that Christie had unwittingly made for Gianforte through his Twitter account:
a special message for @gregformontana pic.twitter.com/YEWM0dEi2S
– Mike Cooney (@CooneyforMT) October 29, 2020
Christie, a prominent Republican, tries to persuade a former New Jersey resident, identified as the only “Greg”, to return to his state in the video of Cameo, a ministry Christie joined just a few days ago. The former governor of the Garden State from 2010-2018 mentions benefits in Jersey such as those of Taylor Ham (editor’s note: New Jersey residents will know this as a pork roll), Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and the boardwalks.
“Let’s have some fun in Jersey and be strong in Jersey,” says Christie with a thumbs-up in the 51-second message. “Come back, Greg. We need you.”
Christie’s cameo message could be read as Cooney trying to have fun at the expense of his rival, or perhaps as a way to portray him as an outsider by emphasizing his non-Big Sky Country roots. Although born in San Diego, Gianforte spent much of his life in New Jersey, where both his parents came from.
Cooney, the current lieutenant governor, wants to replace the current governor, his Democratic counterpart Steve Bullock, who is running for a Senate seat. A Montana State University-Billings poll released this week showed that the race between Cooney and Gianforte is virtually tied at 45% each, but 9% of voters surveyed said they were still undecided.
Cooney’s campaign also issued a press release on Thursday about the video, which was published in an e-mail from the Democratic Governors Association. It read: “Even the former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, agrees that Reg Gianforte should go back to New Jersey.
But Christie did not find the humor in the prank. He says he didn’t know who he was talking about when he made the video. He went on Twitter to denounce the move, pointing out that he was using Cameo to benefit the nonprofit group Center for Expectations, which provides shelter and treatment for pregnant women suffering from mental health and addiction problems.
Shame on @CooneyforMT. The same applies to @DemGovs. I use Cameo for the benefit of a non-profit organization from NJ that shelters and treats drug and alcohol addicted pregnant women, and they send this misleading request and then push it out as a shot of @GregForMontana. I SUPPORT Greg Gianforte for the governor – by all means! pic.twitter.com/ey1DB8sSBP
– Governor Christie (@GovChristie) October 29, 2020
Gianforte has not yet replied personally and has not posted anything on his personal Twitter account since 2019. But if he wants to pay Christie for a personalized cameo message, it will cost him $200.