Kelsey Meisch ’17
Is party alignment falling out of perspective? Governor Chris Christie reclaimed his title as New Jersey’s governor on Wednesday night, winning re-election as a Republican in a traditionally blue state. Does this mean that New Jersey’s dominant Democratic Party is losing its base? No.
New Jersey did not vote along party lines, but instead on the quality of the candidate. Christie proved his leadership capabilities in reaction to last year’s Hurricane Sandy, a storm which caused New Jersey to declare a “state of emergency.” Christie, in his pursuit of emergency recovery funds for the state, even took some heat from his own party. During the 2012 presidential election more attacks followed when, with Mitt Romney as the GOP candidate, the Governor sought President Obama’s help in securing disaster. However, Christie remained firm in his pursuit to be “Jersey-Strong” and “Restore the Shore.” In the article, “Hurricane Sandy Blows Chris Christie to the Top of the Polls” in US News, Ross Baker, political science professor at Rutgers University stated: “The aggressiveness with which [the Governor] stood up for the state will certainly make him as a decisive leader.” This perception of Christie definitely showed in Wednesday’s election results. The incumbent governor won re-election with over 60 percent of New Jersey’s vote. Of that Christie acquired 56 percent of the female vote, 51 percent of the Hispanic vote, and 1/3 of all Democrats and Liberals. In New Jersey only 39 percent of voters hold a favorable impression of the GOP, yet Christie still won due to the quality of credentials.
Christie’s re-election definitely puts him in the running as the GOP presidential nominee in the 2016 election. He may just be the kind of ‘electable’ candidate the party needs for it to recover after the government shutdown. As Perry Bacon Jr. said in his article “The rise of Chris Christie and other lessons from Tuesday’s results,” Christie may have won against a lightly-regarded Democrat Senator Barbara Buono and not a more fierce or well-known candidate, however Christie goes to show how a Republican can carry a democratic state.
A serious question remains in Christie as a presidential candidate—can he survive his own party’s critiques? Liked by the media and by the people for his “larger-than-life” personality, Christie can raise money in short periods of time; however, is he the candidate the Republican Party is looking to support? Some conservatives feel Christie’s ability to work with Democrats so comfortably may be a warning sign he will “sell out” conservatives, and in the end they doubt his loyalty to the party. Critics also disapprove of Christie receiving money from Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act that the Republican Party fiercely is against. Additionally, while Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul advocate their conservative natures, Christie seeks a more moderate path, which may in turn hurt his support from Republican constituents. Further still, Christie has been known for his high temper. Will these aspects of Chris Christie lose him Republican support?
Other questions regarding Christie’s presidential bid revolve around his pro-life and anti-gay marriage stances. These issues will definitely be brought up if the Governor seeks candidacy in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Not all Republicans have associated a negative connotation with Christie. Some admire his hands-on approach to solving issues. National Republican Committeeman for Massachusetts Ron Kaufman stated, “Any time you get a Republican running in a state like New Jersey, and running really strong like his is, it’s a signal that everyone in our party takes notice of and respects. Chris Christie is someone that will be a leader of our party for the next three or four years”.
Governor Chris Christie’s roots in bipartisanship can only help him in a country torn by a partisan leadership that has led to serious stalemate like the recent government shutdown. As Alexandra Jaffe stated in her article, “Christie starts down 2016 path,” Christie’s re-election has brought him closer to becoming a contender in the 2016 election. It’ll be interesting to follow the long-term impacts from his new term, if only to see any consistent popularity among Democratic and Republican constituents.