Chris Christie to stay home for 2012 election
Gov. Chris Christie announced yesterday he would not run for president in 2012, ending months of speculation and uncertainty in the ranks of the Republican Party.
The governor stated his duty to New Jersey as a major reason for his decision, pledging to finish what he started some 20 months ago.
“New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me,” Christie said in a nearly hour-long press conference at the New Jersey State House in Trenton.
Christie repeatedly stated he would not seek the Republican presidential nomination, but admitted yesterday that he had been quietly reconsidering his decision. He said support from Republican Party members and private citizens had made him think twice.
But he decided now is not the time for him to run.
“I have a commitment to New Jersey that I simply will not abandon. … That was the promise I made to the people of this state when I took office 20 months ago,” said the governor, who defeated incumbent Democrat Gov. Jon S. Corzine in a heated 2009 election.
Christie said the state has had many accomplishments so far into his tenure, but there is much to be done. If he were to leave, he believes the consequences for the state would be too great.
“I’m doing a job that I love in the state I grew up in,” he said. “In the end, what I always felt was the right decision remains the right decision today — now is not my time.”
The 49-year-old governor made clear the decision was ultimately his and that his wife Mary Pat Christie and two children would have supported whatever path he chose.
“The deciding factor was that it did not feel right to me, in my gut, to leave now when the job isn’t finished,” he said.
Christie said he does want the country to succeed, but he thinks that could happen as long as President Barack Obama is not re-elected. The governor does not regret his choice to not run next year and may reconsider his candidacy in the future.
Enthusiasm among Republicans at the prospect of Christie’s candidacy showed the split in conservative voters with Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Rick Perry having 17 percent, 12 percent and 10 percent voter support, respectively, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.
Christie was tied with Romney at 17 percent.
John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said Christie’s decision not to run would leave Romney as the standout candidate, giving him an advantage over Perry or tea party favorite Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn.
“I think Mitt Romney would be the main beneficiary of this,” he said. “As a Republican frontrunner, he would get more of Christie’s [potential] votes.”
His decision not to run removes one of the big uncertainties in the Republican race. The only outstanding conservative candidates now are former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but the chances of their entering the race are low.
Another advantage Christie had was his ability to quickly garner support, Weingart said.
“It certainly wouldn’t have been too late for him to join the race,” he said.
He said Christie’s chances were always good with a relatively big number of Republican voters calling for his candidacy and enough time to raise funds and organize a campaign.
“He did have a chance to make a good candidate, who had a good chance of winning,” he said. “Christie will certainly make a good candidate in the future if he decides to announce his candidacy.”
Christie’s popularity among Republican voters is also reflected in his role as governor, Weingart said.
He received a significant amount of media coverage in the days before he made his decision, even after repeated statements that he would not run.
“I think the governor is probably strengthened by this,” Weingart said. “He was in a pretty good position in the state before this, a month ago, and this national attention has been a good thing for him.”
He said the N.J. governor still holds a very powerful position, and his chances of becoming president in the future were not unsubstantiated.
“He may or may not have enjoyed it, but he’s received compliments from a wide variety of people,” Weingart said.
Christie was viewed as a blunt speaker who challenged teachers unions in New Jersey and brought a handful of financial cuts. His backers found his composed but aggressive attitude a positive in contrast to Perry’s or others’ dispositions.
“He not only is a powerful governor, but he’s a powerful governor who, even more than before, looks like he has a reasonable chance at being president,” Weingart said. “Just not this year.”