Former two-term New Jersey Chris Christie is a long shot to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Still, his entry Tuesday into the race is sure to deliver a much more contentious primary.
Christie, considered a moderate, failed in his first nomination try in 2016, and is known for his willingness to throw a political punch. Former President Donald Trump, the leader in national Republican polls, will be his primary target.
Former Governor Christie plans to focus on New Hampshire, as he did in 2016, where independents can cast votes in primaries and more centrist Republicans are rewarded when compared with Iowa, a state dominated by social conservatives. New Hampshire and Iowa will begin the GOP nominating process early next year, followed by Nevada and South Carolina.
A gifted debater and politician who served as the Attorney General in New Jersey before becoming governor, Christie endorsed former President Trump shortly after dropping out of the 2016 primary. He was the first high-profile establishment GOP member to do so.
Although the two men have had a long personal relationship, it quickly deteriorated once Christie criticized Trump after he lost the 2020 election and wouldn’t concede.
“Donald Trump says he would end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours tonight on CNN,” wrote Christie last month on Twitter. “Despite how ridiculous that is to say, I suspect he would try to do it by turning Ukraine over to Putin and Russia. #Putin’sPuppet.” The former governor has also accused Trump of being “afraid to get on the debate stage.”
Trump’s closest competitor in national polls, GOP Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has also stepped up his attacks on the former president.
Christie’s entry into the race adds to an already crowded field that includes former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Former Vice President Mike Pence filed paperwork Monday with the Federal Election Commission ahead of a planned Wednesday announcement speech. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is also expected to publicly launch his candidacy on the same day.
Christie has continued to support U.S. assistance in the war in Ukraine, taking a similar stance as Pence, Scott, and Haley. His stance differs from the skepticism of DeSantis and Trump.
Gov. Christie’s tenure surrounded by controversy
During his tenure as governor, Christie was surrounded by controversy regarding allegations that his political aides had closed lanes of the George Washington Bridge, connecting New Jersey with New York, to exact political revenge.
The closures in 2013 resulted in days of gridlock. Many viewed it as an act of political retribution against the Democrat mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, the site of the traffic jam, for not giving Christie an endorsement in his re-election campaign for governor.
The former governor wasn’t accused of wrongdoing in the scandal, which became known as Bridgegate. However, it still damaged and delayed his first presidential bid.
In 2020 the Supreme Court threw out a pair of public-corruption convictions related to the case. It ruled that a political retribution scheme to cripple a town with traffic jams did not constitute federal fraud.
Before former President Trump altered the contours of the Republican Party, Christie was viewed as a rising star in the GOP due to his ability to win in a state that leans heavily Democratic along with his success as the head of the Republican Governors Association.
In recent years, Christie has worked as an ABC News commentator and a lobbyist.