Was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a big winner in yesterday’s midterm elections? He wasn’t on the ballot but lots of other Republican governors and gubernatorial candidates were, and Governor Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, was instrumental in some of their victories.
That’s earned him gratitude and favors for a probable 2016 presidential run.
“He certainly has raised the bar,” said RGA executive director Phil Cox of Christie’s efforts. “He said from the start that this was his only political priority this ear . . . electing and reelecting Republican governors. And the results speak for themselves.”
Christie helped the RGA raise a record-breaking $106 million for this election cycle, according to the New Jersey Star Ledger. That money came in handy for some cash-strapped candidates, such as Larry Hogan in Maryland. Hogan was outspent 4-to-1 by Democrat Anthony Brown – and still won in a deeply blue state.
Christie also showed up lots of places in person. By his own count he visited 37 states to campaign, including 19 in the last five days. Stops included a round-up of states important in presidential politics, from Florida (Republican Rick Scott won reelection) to Wisconsin (ditto for the GOP’s Scott Walker) and Michigan (Rick Snyder, another Republican incumbent, another win).
“It gave me some experience in terms of traveling around the country . . . It just gives you a feel for what that life might be like,” said Christie this morning on ABC.
With “that life,” Christie’s referring to a presidential bid, in case you didn’t get it. He made the rounds of all the major televised morning shows on Wednesday to crow a little and promote the Christie brand. He told all who asked that it is now time for him and his family to sit down and “start to think about this stuff.” He sounded very much like somebody who has already made up his mind to run for president, unless his prospects take a sudden downturn and it appears like it might be a waste.
In that sense, he’s the GOP equivalent of Hillary Rodham Clinton. They’re both campaigning now. They reserve the right to stop if they change their mind, but that doesn’t appear likely.
But he’s unlike Mrs. Clinton in another sense: he’s far from the foreordained frontrunner. Christie’s earned a lot of return help from important state officeholders, but he still has to work on the voters themselves.
In that same survey, 51 percent said Clinton would make a good chief executive. Forty-one percent said she wouldn’t.
To be fair, other possible GOP candidates did not fare much better in this one poll. But it shows that Christie still has a ways to go if he is to shake off the “bully” image that’s dogged him since the bridge-gate scandal, in which Christie aides diverted traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., as a means of political retaliation.