Nathan Deal, Chris Christie and the politics behind a Mercedes move

The next Republican Governors Association gathering could be quite awkward for Gov. Nathan Deal.

Georgia appears on the verge of luring Mercedes-Benz's U.S. headquarters to move from New Jersey to metro Atlanta. The move, which several sources say could be formally announced as soon as today, would be a considerable coup for Deal as he prepares to begin a second term.

It also would be a bitter pill for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the presidential contender whose administration is fighting to keep the German automaker's operations in Montvale. Christie, as then-chairman of the powerful RGA, was among Deal's most vocal out-of-state allies as he beat back a challenge from Democrat Jason Carter.

The New Jersey politician visited Georgia several times, including a trip to Gainesville the weekend before the election to rally the GOP faithful to Deal's side. And the RGA pumped more than $4 million into his re-election campaign, which helped fund bruising attack ads slamming Carter's background and policy stances.

NorthJersey.com, which has also been tracking the move, reports that Christie's administration is holding out hopes that it can keep at least some operations in Jersey. The outlet also reports that state officials have put together a sizable tax incentive package to convince Mercedes to stay.

You can be sure Georgia will reach into its coffers to seal the deal, too, offering tax breaks from state and local authorities, credits for new hires and cash from the state's closing fund. One recent example: A package of more than $100 million worth of incentives was pieced together in 2013 to entice a carpet company to build two new factories in north Georgia.

And so perhaps we should not be surprised that, when Christie announced recently that he would be attending six GOP gubernatorial inaugurations as head of the Republican Governors Association, Deal's festivities were not on the list.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
X