Christie Not the First NJ Governor to Flirt With Presidency
Gov. Chris Christie is the first New Jersey governor since Woodrow Wilson to be seriously considered as a potential presidential candidate, but Garden State chief executives almost always get a little presidential buzz at some point, according to two political experts.
Governors Tom Kean, Christine "Christie" Todd Whitman, Jim McGreevey and Jon Corzine were all talked about as presidential possibilities.
"Almost every New Jersey governor in the modern age has been talked about as a potential presidential candidate," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. "Most of the talk has to do with the fact that New Jersey holds its gubernatorial elections the year after the presidential elections, so a lot of pundits and observers try to see this as some sort of reading the tea leaves about which direction we're going."
Christie has said he will announce his decision on a presidential run at some point this year, but he hasn't given a specific self-imposed deadline. He said he will run if it's right for him, right for his family and right for the country.
And while other New Jersey governors have gotten attention, no one has received the amount of attention Christie has, especially as early on in their roles as governor as Christie did.
"Certainly it became clear very early on that Jon Corzine with his money had potential, and Jim McGreevey did very well in his first race that he lost against Whitman, but nobody had received the attention early on as much as Chris Christie did. He came into a solidly Democratic state and knocked out an incumbent governor and was getting a lot of attention. Part of it was probably because he always wanted to run for president as we're seeing evidence of now," Murray said.
New Jersey has always been considered a bellwether state because it wasn't always so solidly Democratic. It was a state that could and did go Republican.
"Just by virtue of coming from a major state with a significant population that could elect Republicans or Democrats allowing governors to show they have crossover appeal, that made our governors people you wanted to talk to," said Ben Dworkin, a political science professor at Rider University.
Garden State governors also bring media skills to the table because to run in New Jersey means you will have been covered by New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia media outlets.
"Those are the reasons why anybody who gets elected New Jersey governor is almost immediately thrown into a list for potential presidential candidates," Dworkin said.
Christie has set up a political action committee (PAC) to explore a presidential run. That's a first for a New Jersey governor, but there's a reason for that too.
" Super PACs didn't exist when Tom Kean was governor or even when Christie Whitman was governor, and both of them were mentioned as presidential possibilities," Dworkin said.