Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has announced his candidacy for the presidency, adding a dose of anti-Trump criticism to a Republican primary field that has largely been hesitant to cross its leading candidate. Christie was set to make the announcement during a town hall event in Manchester, New Hampshire, the state where his last presidential bid came undone. The former governor placed sixth in that state’s 2016 primary and dropped out of the race shortly after. However, Christie shocked the Republican establishment when he endorsed then-candidate Donald Trump just days later, helping him prepare for his presidential debates against now-President Joe Biden in the 2020 contest.
Like many Republicans, Christie criticized Trump after a violent mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, derailing the peaceful transfer of power to Biden. However, unlike many of the GOP establishment who softened their stance on Trump in the ensuing months, Christie kept up his criticism. Christie has stressed the need for Trump’s current challengers to confront him on the debate stage and defeat him, stating that the only way to defeat Trump is to have somebody on that stage who will do to him what he did to Marco Rubio.
Christie’s Chances of Winning
Christie has suggested in recent months that he would not run unless he sees a feasible path to victory. Despite this, Christie filed paperwork to run for president, but many political watchers see his path to victory as unclear. Polls of the prospective primary race show Christie garnering little support from Republican voters. A recent Monmouth University survey found that Christie was the only declared or potential GOP candidate to receive a net negative favorability rating, 21% to 47%, from Republican voters.
Christie’s announcement comes less than two weeks after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially joined the Republican primary race, becoming the top non-Trump contender. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott entered the primary that same week, and Former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to join the fray on Wednesday.
Christie’s allies recently launched a super PAC, Tell It Like It Is, to support his run for president. Christie was elected governor of the historically blue state in 2009 and served for two terms, the maximum allowed under term limit rules. Christie gained national attention in 2012 for his response to Superstorm Sandy, which battered his state and caused billions of dollars in damage, but his second term was marred by his connection to the 2013 “Bridgegate” scandal. In September of that year, commuter lanes were shut down on the George Washington Bridge connecting New Jersey and New York for several days in retaliation against a mayor who refused to back Christie’s reelection bid, causing massive traffic jams. The Supreme Court in 2020 reversed fraud convictions against two of Christie’s aides who had played key roles in the scandal.