With Chris Christie heading toward what looks like a landslide re-election in deep blue New Jersey next week, speculation will turn immediately afterward to 2016. I admire Christie’s ability, but have wondered two things even before his egregious bear hugging of Obama a year ago. New Jersey is sort of the inverse-Texas of the northeast: would his particular and aggressive style play well outside of New Jersey? And second, is he reliably conservative? There are reasons for doubting this.
I posed this question last night over dinner with a well-placed northeastern-based political operative, who immediately said: “Oh—Christie is going to run for president as a Democrat.”
This seems unlikely; the unions would never forgive him for laying some smack on them in the Garden State. But the concept behind the idea is not unreasonable. Christie showed himself lacking courage in not holding the special election for the open U.S. Senate seat on the same day as his re-election, thinking it would depress his re-elect numbers. This is a moral as well as political failure: he should have thought the other way around, i.e., how his own popularity might have made the Senate race closer, given that Cory Booker turned out to be a weaker candidate than expected. He shows very little real concern beyond his own self-interest for the health of the Republican Party. Recall last year’s GOP convention keynote address, where Christie never bothered to mention the party’s nominee.
In the era of Tea Party enthusiasm it is hard to see Christie getting traction against Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, not to mention other governors with better records like Scott Walker. So maybe Christie links arms with Michael Bloomberg, who clearly wants to be president, on an independent ticket. (Though the obvious problem here is who would take the Number Two spot on this ticket. Would you want Michael Bloomberg as your VP? Imagine the extra food tasters you’d need to have around. On the other hand, maybe this would make Bloomberg drop his dietary jihad. “Here, President Christie—by all means have some extra salt on your steak!”)