July 01– TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie, at long last an official candidate for president, will tell the nation he has a record of reaching across party lines to get things done in New Jersey.
Despite twice electing Christie their governor, New Jersey voters might argue the point.
And in a hypothetical matchup between Christie and Democrat Hillary Clinton, New Jersey voters in February favored the former secretary of state 58 percent to 35 percent, according to a Rutgers University Eagleton Institute of Politics poll.
If the Republican, second-term governor somehow won his party’s nomination and then the White House, he could become a rare president not to carry his home state.
Only three nominees —
New Jersey’s Woodrow Wilson in 1916, Tennessee’s James Polk in 1844, and New York’s Richard Nixon in 1968 (Nixon moved to New York after a failed run for governor in California) — won the White House while losing their home states.
Christie’s poll numbers haven’t always been in the tank. He was considered a GOP frontrunner for 2016 until the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal exploded into public view following the governor’s 2013 re-election. At home, the voters’ antipathy has only grown, as seen in a steady stream of polls, as Christie has asserted his presidential ambitions.
“With Gov. Christie’s attention elsewhere, the public is clearly frustrated with the state’s problems languishing or growing worse,” said pollster Krista Jenkins.
A Quinnipiac University poll in April showed that an overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans, 65 percent to 29 percent, don’t believe Christie would make a good president — a difficult result to explain on the campaign circuit.
Christie responded to that survey by telling Megyn Kelly of Fox News, “They want me to stay. A lot of those people in that 65 percent want me to stay. And I’ve heard that from lots of people at town hall meetings. ‘Don’t leave to run for president because we want you to stay.’ ”
Now it will be up to Christie to multi-task. He says he will remain in office during his presidential campaign and pursuit
of donors and voters in other states.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno will be acting governor when Christie is on the road. Were Christie to resign, Guadagno would become the full-time governor.
Christie rarely publicly discussed the topic in the months prior to his campaign announcement, but Michael DuHaime, one of his top advisers, said Christie has long told donors and potential supporters “that he is going to stay in office.”
Residents by nearly a 2-to-1 margin in a Quinnipiac University poll in December felt differently, saying Christie should resign as governor if he becomes a candidate for president. But state Democrats haven’t made it an issue.
Bob Jordan 609-984-4343, bjordan@GannettNJ.com
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