Evaluating Chris Christie
Chris Christie won re-election this week by a staggering margin in a blue state. As much as conservatives don’t want to admit it, this does mean something. While I in no way endorse or pull for Christie in the primaries, I will go ahead and note upfront that I would view his candidacy more favorably than a McCain or a Romney candidacy. Namely, because Christie hasn’t spent a lifetime betraying conservatives as McCain had and because he won’t be the nation’s architect of the best political issue to run on as Romney was in 2012. Additionally, Christie has at least plausible deniability that he is pro-life, something our last two nominees could not claim.
Yet early pundits are overestimating Christie’s strength. The New Jersey, tough talking politician may not go over as well with women voters come 2016 as it did in New Jersey. And while I realize that Christie just defeated a female opponent, it will be difficult for any male candidate to call Hillary Clinton out on her record while not coming off as a bully. Look for Christie’s demeanor to hurt as much as help him going into 2016.
Secondly, while everyone is excited about his overwhelming re-election win, there are other Republican governors who have showcased similar strength. Bobby Jindal won re-election in Louisiana and more importantly, Scott Walker won a dramatic recall election in a blue state as well. The only difference between Walker and Christie is that Walker truly showed that he was a fighter. Yet, I don’t mean to take anything from Governor Christie.
What is most brilliant about Chris Christie’s tenure has been that many of the moves he has made toward the center haven’t necessarily been policy moves. Some have. For instance, the minimum wage issue. However, Christie’s embrace of Obama, or refusal to campaign with Ken Cuccinelli, while petty and offensive to conservatives haven’t directly resulted in more liberal policy.
Christie’s biggest problem now is that he looks like a frontrunner, and frontrunners have the disadvantage of having to stay in the lead for three more years.
Additionally, second terms for governors as much as presidents, tend to stagnate fairly early.
The largest objection to a Christie candidacy could be that he is a Bush Neo-Con and the Republican Party who has been evolving past the Cheney/Rumsfeld Neocon-ism of the past decade must ask itself if it wants to degenerate back into a nation-building party.
Christie is going to have to meet conservatives in the middle on some of the surveillance and overseas issues or he is going to be the leftward candidate that faces off against the Cruz/Paul element of the party and opens up a middle path for Rubio to demonstrate that he is the consensus candidate among the two factions.