Christie tour hits Texas, without Perry or Abbott

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Chris Christie. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Chris Christie's big national tour starts in Texas tomorrow, where the embattled chair of the Republican Governors Association won't be joined by the current Republican governor, or the party's gubernatorial nominee.

According to the Dallas Morning News, neither Gov. Rick Perry, nor Attorney General Greg Abbott will be in attendance at the fund-raiser in Dallas.

Christie's tour is seen as something of a barometer for his future ambitions, in the wake of a local scandal over politically motivated lane closures that has quickly metastasized into a national problem for Christie's brand.

The absence of Perry and Abbott would seem to make for an inauspicious start.

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A spokesman for Perry shrugged off the importance of Christie's visit, while a spokesman for Abbott told the paper that he'll be in the Houston area for an immigration-related event.

Texas isn't a perfect gauge for Christie's appeal though, since Perry is a potential rival to Christie in 2016, and Abbott is running to replace him in a state that has tilted decidedly to the right of Christie's moderate profile.

Texas conservatives, which have increasingly come to dominate the political landscape there, are inherently skeptical of northeast Republicans, who generally lack the ideological fervor of their Southern counterparts.

In November, before "Bridgegate" became a national story, Sen. Ted Cruz outpolled Christie by a wide margin in Texas. Among Texas Republicans, Christie drew 13 percent support—the same as Jeb Bush—to Cruz's 32 percent.

Christie has cast himself as a pragmatic alternative to Cruz's firebrand conservatism. 

During the government shutdown instigated by Cruz, Christie said Americans were angry at the "dysfunction" in Washington.

Cruz later praised Christie's big win in New Jersey, but walked away from reporters when asked whether Christie was a true conservative.

In an interview after the State of the Union, Cruz said he likes Christie.

"I think it's unfortunate he's found himself in this mess, and I very much hope he's able to extricate and extricate himself quickly," Cruz said. "I'm rooting for him to do so."