- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - One possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, sings the praises of potential GOP rival Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2014 released Thursday.

Walker made the list under the “Leaders” category along with other politicians including President Barack Obama, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Others on the list include conservative Republican financiers David and Charles Koch, pop singer Miley Cyrus, and tennis star Serena Williams.

Christie’s praising of Walker isn’t unprecedented. Christie is chairman of the Republican Governors Association and has previously spoken highly of Walker as he faces re-election this fall.

Christie’s three-paragraph item on Walker cites his fight over public workers’ collective bargaining rights in 2011 and his successful defeat of a recall election in 2012 as signs of Walker’s leadership.

“Leadership takes many forms in public office,” Christie wrote. “One of the most difficult challenges is standing up for what you believe in when faced with relentless public attacks. Scott Walker faced that test and passed it with flying colors.”

Walker is pictured leaning against a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with the state Capitol in the background. The piece is titled, “The heartland’s Republican hopeful.”

Walker has refused to say he would serve a full four-year term if re-elected, fueling speculation that he intends to run for president. Walker’s publication of a book last fall recounting his battle with the unions and the recall fight, his national speaking schedule and his courting of big GOP donors have also kept him in the mix among 2016 hopefuls.

This isn’t the first time Walker has been linked with the most influential list. In 2011, he wrote a piece for fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan when he made the list, a year before Mitt Romney selected him as his running mate.

Ryan, like Walker and Christie, is also considering a 2016 presidential run.

Wisconsin Democrats were not impressed.

“The only person they could get to be an apologist for scandal-plagued Governor Scott Walker was scandal-plagued Governor Chris Christie?” said Wisconsin Democratic Party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff. “I guess it takes one to know one.”

Christie has been embroiled in a scandal surrounding a traffic jam around the George Washington Bridge into New York City, and has denied any knowledge of his staff ordering all lanes closed to retaliate against a mayor who had declined to endorse Christie’s re-election.

Walker was questioned in relation to a completed investigation that resulted in six convictions of former aides and associates. A second investigation looking into possible illegal coordination between conservative organizations and Walker’s recall campaign is ongoing.

Walker’s likely Democratic challenger for re-election is Mary Burke, a former state commerce secretary and executive at Trek Bicycle Corp. Her spokesman Joe Zepecki did not react specifically to the Time piece, but instead repeated a key platform of Burke’s campaign that Walker isn’t doing enough to create jobs.

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