by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Chris Christie is adding another bold-faced name to the increasingly crowded 2024 Republican field. The big questions he’ll have to answer in the coming months are whether his candidacy has a cogent rationale or a remotely plausible path to victory, and whether his presence will once again help, rather than hurt, Donald Trump.
Governor Chris Sununu took into account similar considerations, and thought better of running. To say that Christie faces an uphill climb for the Republican nomination is to put things a lot more politely than he would were he discussing another candidate with a similar background. His brash New Jersey style is a turnoff to many voters, especially those who aren’t already voting for Trump. He has a past that includes advocating gun bans and embracing Barack Obama both literally (after Hurricane Sandy just ahead of the 2012 presidential election) and on policy (by backing Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in New Jersey). In 2016, Christie dropped out after placing a distant sixth in New Hampshire, where he spent most of his time campaigning. And this year’s New Hampshire primary will be an additional eight years removed from the fond memories conservatives have of Christie confronting teachers’ unions in his early days as New Jersey governor in 2010-2011. Or of his service as a pro-life governor who fought for school choice and coasted to reelection in a solidly blue state.
The best one can say about the passage of time since he left office is that it also dims memories of the Bridgegate scandal, in which his senior staff snarled traffic on the George Washington Bridge approach lanes as a ham-handed form of political retaliation against a mayor who didn’t endorse Christie’s reelection.