February 11, 2016
Christie is out. Nobody is that surprised. Ever since Bridgegate it’s been an uphill battle. He found himself on the cut line for many of the debates. Even after turning himself into a New Hampshire-centric candidate, he never got close to Donald Trump in the Granite State polls.
Pick your reason. Trump overshadowed him, he was too moderate for the modern GOP, his record in New Jersey has a number of things (credit rating downgrades, etc.) that make for a good attack ad. He didn’t run in 2012 when he was at his most popular.
He’s very unpopular at home, there were too many governors in the race. The hit on Marco Rubio was effective, but came too late and was more useful to his peers than to him. He pseudo-hugged President Obama on the eve of the 2012 election.
That should pretty well cover it. Feel free to add anything else you can think of. Depending on the glass being half empty/half full, it was either a precipitous drop for the guy many were begging to run in 2012, or a miracle he had the political skills to carry that baggage this far with so many competitors.
What’s next? That’s the big question. He’s 53. Ronald Reagan was elected governor at 55. Teddy Roosevelt left the presidency after almost two full terms at 50. He’s young for an old politician and old for a young one.
No way he runs for a third term in New Jersey. To begin with, he can’t. You can only serve two consecutive terms. Though his approval rating will rebound a bit once his successor is in place, imagining Senator Christie is difficult.
Even if Garden State voters have a change of heart, he’s created a lifetime of clips an opponent could use against him as he claims serving in the Senate would be an honor. While it would be amusing to watch him try to wiggle out, it’s hard to believe we’ll get the opportunity.
Vice President? Not real easy to picture him as someone’s number two. If Marco Rubio recovers somehow, an invitation is probably not in the offing. His ideology is a poor fit for Ted Cruz. He’d overshadow Jeb Bush.
If John Kasich somehow gets himself nominated, he’ll need a more conservative, less egotistical partner. The only candidate who could get away with making Christie his running mate is Trump. With no guarantee The Donald would run for a second term in his mid-70s, Christie would take it.
We’ll call that a maybe at best. The natural fit is Attorney General. He’d like the job. Ted Cruz would not nominate him. He’d want someone he’s completely in synch with. No president has ever cared as much about how the Justice Department does things as Cruz would.
Marco isn’t going to want to deal with the Jersey in the china shop. Jeb or Kasich might pick him, but what are the odds of either being president at this point? Back to The Donald again. He’d do it. Christie fits the tenor of a Trump Administration.
What if there’s no Trump train to board? The most likely outcome is Rudy Giuliani 2.0. Christie has kids in school and has relied on his wife’s investment banking income while he’s held down government jobs.
Time to cash in. High-paying consulting work, membership on a few boards. Plenty of camera time on Fox News and CNN to stay in front of people. Rudy was older when he bounced out in 2008. There’s time for a Christie comeback.
Mayor Bill DeBlasio has done wonders for Michael Bloomberg’s reputation. At the end of three terms, many New Yorkers had their fill with their Chief Executive Soda Consumption Manager.
Now crime is up, they have trouble digging out from snowstorms, and people miss their slightly overbearing mayor. There’s nothing plaguing Christie’s reputation that contrast with a normal New Jersey governor can’t fix.
If Rubio or Cruz win the presidency, their running mate is the presumptive favorite in 2024. Christie would find himself an afterthought. If Trump wins and Christie isn’t his Sancho Panza, there won’t be any appetite for a successor who is similarly loud and pugnacious.
What if Cruz got nominated, but lost in the fall? Not that hard to believe. If Ted couldn’t close the deal, Republicans would enter the 2020 cycle staring at 12 years outside of the White House. Conservatives could not complain they didn’t have a chance to paint in bold colors.
That’s a whole lot of ifs. You never know though. This year, somebody will break the usual pattern of Republicans nominating someone who has run before (W was an exception in 2000 also.) It’s hard to run for president. Christie wasn’t bad at it. He’d improve on a second attempt.
He debates well and does town halls well. He’s comfortable doing TV interviews and makes a decent major speech. It’s hard to look into the future and project what pieces will fall in place and what ideology and style are will be in season.
Talent is talent. Even with many things working against him, Christie outlasted several high-profile candidates. We’ll hear from him again.