New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for a third term at a Republican Party campaign fundraising event in northern Idaho.

 

Governor Chris Christie answers press questions at the State House (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports the event at the Coeur d'Alene Resort on Friday evening drew about 350 people to hear Christie talk about the GOP and why Idaho should re-elect Otter.

"I came out here to Idaho because I don't want any doubt in anyone's mind, if there was, that I am for Butch Otter," Christie said. "And if you like the way I do business, you must love the way he does business in Idaho. He does an amazing job. See, Butch and I became best friends because we are the same kind of folks. I am sure you never have to wonder what is on Butch Otter's mind."

Otter has not officially announced he's seeking a third term, but he's hired a campaign manager. Otter faces a primary challenge in state Sen. Russ Fulcher, a conservative lawmaker from Meridian who says he disagrees with Otter's decision to establish a state-run health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The winner will face Anthony Joseph "A.J." Balukoff, who announced his candidacy Tuesday and so far has no Democratic rival in May's primary.

 

Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter (Gov. Otter website)

The New Jersey governor easily won re-election in November, but has downplayed his front-runner status for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Christie said he and his wife, Mary Pat, became good friends with Otter and his wife, Lorie, in 2010 after Christie joined the Republican Governor's Association, which Christie now chairs. He said he came to Idaho to help build early support for Otter for both the primary and general election next year.

"Now, if you don't, you are going to see the other Chris Christie," he joked. "I will be back with a Jersey attitude, and that's not pretty. I'll tell you the truth, you don't want me back here angry."

Otter reminded the crowd he served in the U.S. House of Representatives before becoming Idaho's governor.

"One of the reasons I left Congress — after six years there being your representative — I thought to myself this is a great republic we have and it's worth saving, but I don't think it can be saved here in Washington, D.C., so I am going home," he said. "Because I think the only way we can save this great republic of ours is the same way it was created. It was the states that created this republic, and so I think it's up to the states to save it."

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