New Jersey governor Chris Christie easily wins reelection over Democrat Barbara Buono, demonstrating broad bipartisan appeal that will definitely be his argument if he decides to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
The margin is getting bigger, not smaller, as the votes get counted. Chris Christie cruised to victory in a state that President Barack Obama carried a year ago by more than 17 percentage points, which was his biggest margin in the nation, and 1 of only 2 states that Obama increased his margin.
Per New Jersey law, Christie is barred from seeking a third term, and he said after he voted Tuesday in Mendham, N.J., that it was the last time he’d be running for elected office in the state.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever have another chance to vote for myself,” he said. “I won’t ever run for another office in New Jersey, I can guarantee that. This is it for me.”
From the beginning, the race between Christie and Buono, a little-known state senator, seemed lopsided at best.
Buono and her husband voted Tuesday morning at a school gymnasium in her hometown.
The Democratic Governors Association, which is designated to help Democrats win governor’s races, spent less than $5,000 on the New Jersey contest. By contrast, they poured more than $6 million into the Virginia governor’s race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Christie’s campaign spent $11.5 million on television and radio ads through Election Day, compared with Buono’s $2.1 million, according to SMG Delta, a Virginia-based firm that tracks political spending.
Christie’s popularity with New Jersey moderates grew following his handling of Superstorm Sandy. The hurricane slammed into his state, damaging 360,000 homes and businesses. Christie publically praised President Obama’s handling of Sandy—something that didn’t endear him to some in his party.
Buono, 60, called out Christie for putting his personal ambitions ahead of the state. She also took him to task on gay marriage and his fiscal priorities, which includes his veto of legislation raising the minimum wage.
The Republican incumbent’s big win comes on the heels of a newly published book, “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, that paints Christie as a train wreck of a candidate with diva-like demands and a penchant for being tardy to fundraisers.
Christie had been briefly considered as a running mate for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid. Ultimately, he was not chosen and the Romney camp decided to go with Sen. Paul Ryan instead.
Tuesday’s win for Christie sends a strong message to the Republican base about his likeability and relatability—something the GOP has lacked in the last two election cycles.