This week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is spending three days in Iowa to campaign for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and House Speaker Kraig Paulsen. He will also visit New Hampshire later this month. In addition, the popular two-term governor is now the chair of the Republican Governors Association, succeeding fellow 2016 hopeful Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
Without any doubt, Christie is strongly considering a run for president in 2016. He has received much attention over the past few years thanks to his outgoing personality, dogmatic debating style, and his long list of accomplishments.
Christie was first elected to public office to the local-level position of Morris County Freeholder (1995-1997) and then was hired as a campaign lawyer for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. In 2001, Bush appointed Christie to become the United States Attorney of New Jersey (2002-2008). As a federal persecutor, he became known as a political corruption-buster by winning guilty pleas from 130 public officials of both political parties, at all three levels of government.
In 2009, Christie ran for governor of the deep-blue state of New Jersey and defeated incumbent Governor Jon Corzine. He won 49 percent to 45 percent, which was the largest margin of victory for a first-term Republican in the state since 1969. Capitalizing on his first term accomplishments, he won re-election in 2013 by a massive landslide, defeating Democratic nominee Barbara Buono, a state senator, 60 percent to 38 percent. Most notably, he won the Hispanic vote with an extraordinary – 51 percent of the vote. He also performed unusually well among African Americans, carrying about 21 percent of the state’s black vote.
His popularity stems from his various accomplishments despite the fact that Democrats control the state legislature. He has passed several budgets without raising taxes, capped property tax hikes, reformed teacher tenure, expanded charter schools, and vehemently exposed the corruption of the teachers’ union.
Pundits say the challenge for Chris Christie in 2016 will be his lack of appeal to Tea Party conservatives. He has been harshly criticized for his handling of Hurricane Sandy and his alleged “love affair” with Barack Obama.
However, some conservatives understand the real reason why Christie praised Obama. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh explained:
“Gov. Christie needs the money so the people will be helped, so Christie praises Obama. It’s a master-servant relationship. Exactly the kind of bipartisanship that the drive-by media want.”
Other political experts argue the so-called “love affair” will only be one of his big problems in the 2016 presidential primaries. The Bridge Scandal could come back to haunt him. Christie has done little to change the fact that New Jersey has some of the nation’s most progressive abortion and gun control laws. The question is whether or not conservatives are willing to vote for yet another pragmatic Republican candidate from the Northeast.
Author note: This article has been updated.
Follow Matthew Appleman on Twitter at @matt_appleman.