Chris Christie, a native of Newark, New Jersey, is currently serving as the 55th Governor of the state of New Jersey. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware where he met his current wife Mary Pat Foster. He went on to study law at Seton Hall University. He entered into politics in 1994 by serving on Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He had his sights set on a seat in the New jersey General Assembly. In 1995, he ran against incumbent Anthony Bucco and was defeated by a wide margin. In the years that followed he became a lobbyist for GPU Energy, University of Phoenix, and Hackensack Medical Center among others. This put him in a position to become an important fundraiser in George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000.
After Bush’s victory, Christie was appointed as United States Attorney for New Jersey. His appointment was seen as controversial by some because of his lack of experience in criminal law as well as his fundraising ties to George W. Bush. During his tenure, Christie led a campaign against corrupt public officials regardless of their political affiliations. He went on to gain 130 convictions with no acquittals. This focus on ethics would become a harbinger of his approach to governing. After 6 years in the Attorney’s office, Christie decided to make a run for Governor of New Jersey in 2009 and went on to defeat embattled incumbent Governor Jon Corzine by a 49-45 margin.
Track Record as Governor
- Signed legislation in New Jersey which cut payroll taxes by $190 million, which was about $87 per working family per year. This tax cut reduced funding of the Temporary Disability Insurance fund.
- Rejected a bill allowing same-sex marriage in New Jersey, saying “an issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide.”
- Since his election New Jersey has added 75,000 private sector jobs
- Christie has sliced about $86 million from the state budget using line-item vetoes. A large portion of the cuts were reductions in funds for pension contributions
- Signed into law a teacher tenure reform bill which overhauled the process in an effort to make it easier to dismiss teachers.
- Abortion: In 2011, he stated on CNN Piers Morgan Tonight, “I’m pro-life, I believe in exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, but I do believe that life is precious and should be protected.”
- Same Sex Marriage: He has stated that he supports civil unions but does not support gay marriage. Although he is catholic and his religion considers it a sin, he says he does not because “if someone is born that way, it’s very difficult to say then that that’s a sin.”
- Energy: In 2011 he stated, “The future for New Jersey is in green energy and already we’ve put in place policies to broaden our access to renewable sources of energy, cleaner natural gas generation and ending our reliance on coal generation.”
- Education: He supports merit pay for teachers. He is also an advocate of a system where the state provides tax credit for parents who send their children to private or parochial schools.
- Illegal immigration: In 2008, while serving as a US Attorney, Christie said, “being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime.” He went on to say that an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal unless that person re-enters the country after being deported. At a Reagan Library speech, Christie said he opposed allowing children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges.
- Taxes: He has repeatedly promised not to raise taxes. He is a strong believer in spending cuts over tax increases.
- Health Care: He did not join other states in a lawsuit against the new health care law, but he is on the record as saying Medicaid mandates are “drowning” New Jersey
- Entitlements: Christie recently told an audience at the conservative American Enterprise Institute that the retirement age to receive Social Security has to be raised and Medicare has to be changed.
- Energy: Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is intended to reduce carbon emissions. He considered the initiative a tax on energy. But he is on record as saying that climate change is “impacting our state” and “human activity plays a role in these changes.”
- Gun Laws: He supports the assault weapons ban and during his campaign for governor, opposed conceal-and-carry laws in New Jersey.
Possibility of a Presidential run in 2016
At a press conference in 2011 Chris Christie stated that he was not going to run for president in 2012 saying “now is not my time, I have a commitment to New Jersey that I simply will not abandon.” However, he has already alluded to the possibility of a run for the presidency in 2016. In December 2012, Christie hinted at the possibility of a run on the TV show Conversations at NJPAC, saying “I wasn’t ready to run for President this time” and when asked about the possibility of running in 2016 he went on to say ‘if it comes, I know that I will be more ready for it than I would have been this year.”
As of January 2013, he is currently enjoying his highest approval rating of his gubernatorial term; a November 2012 Farleigh Dickinson University poll showed that 77% of respondents thought he was doing a good job. He is seen by many around the country as a republican who is willing to work with democrats. One lasting image from the lead up to the 2012 presidential election was of Barack Obama and Chris Christie together solving real problems after Hurricane Sandy, working together as republican and democrat. He has said that “when it comes to getting things done, I don’t care what party somebody’s in.” Comments like this could be both a blessing and a curse if he decides to make a run at the republican nomination in 2016.
Currently, he has his eyes set on re-election as New Jersey governor in 2013. Pundits believe that the most formidable challenger to Christie would be Newark Mayor Corey Booker. However, it is still unclear whether Booker will run in 2013 or focus on a run for Senate in 2014. A decisive victory in the 2013 gubernatorial election would certainly put Christie towards the front of the pack of possible republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election.