Just when you thought it was safe, New Jersey’s plucky mayor Chris Christie is poised to join the 2024 political arena and take on former president Donald Trump. Despite his resounding defeat in 2016, Christie remains “hopeful” that he can beat the front-runner and his closest competition, Florida’s Ron DeSantis.
Christie is set to announce his candidacy during a town hall event at New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College on June 6. Christie’s advisors say that Christie is positioning himself as “a happy warrior who speaks his mind, takes risks, and is happy to punch Donald Trump in the nose.”
Washington Post commentator Aaron Blake observes, “Say what you will about Chris Christie; he is a smart man … He must know that he has precious little chance in 2024 … and while he has insisted this isn’t just a kamikaze mission to take down Donald Trump, it’s difficult to see how it could amount to much else.”
Christie may be already underestimating his position against Trump. He told a group of New England voters in April that Trump is “afraid of debate” because “he doesn’t have a lot of serious answers for the problems that are facing the country right now. All he wants to do is go back and re-prosecute the 2020 election because his feelings are hurt. He’s a child in that regard.”
No one loves a good debate more than Trump, however, and if Christie is going to be on the stage with the unapologetic dynamo, he needs to bring his “A” game.
Christie will be haunted this election cycle by the ghosts of his 2016 defeat, where he came in sixth in the New Hampshire primary. For Christie, who had invested most of his campaign efforts to make a showing in the state, the loss spelled the beginning of the end. His disappointing results in New Hampshire led to a very real possibility that he would not be on the stage for Republican debates. Rather than face more embarrassment, Christie dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Donald Trump.
In 2020, following Trump’s assertions about voter irregularities in the election, Christie withdrew his support of Trump. Christie claims that Trump had offered him multiple positions in the cabinet during his presidency, but he turned them all down. The reason he gave for his refusal of appointments involved his wife’s reluctance to live in Washington DC, but Insiders feel that he withdrew from Trump after being snubbed for the Attorney General’s office.
For Christie, it seems personal. His statements about his upcoming run are laser-focused on his desire to take former president Trump down, much the same as he took Marco Rubio out of the 2016 election cycle.
According to the AP, Christie thinks of Trump as a reality TV star, “nothing more, nothing less,” and suggested in a New Hampshire Town Hall in April “that in putting him back in the White House, the reruns will be worse than the original show.”
If early polls are any indication, Christie will have another hard run ahead of him. Current polls show him at a 47% unfavorable rating, the worst of any Republican candidate, and only 3% support.
While the media claims that Trump’s legal woes will handicap his chances at a win, Christie’s scandals cast shadows over his own campaign. Bridgegate, blocking the New Jersey/Manhattan tunnel project, a questionable loan to a campaign aid, using Hurricane Sandy relief funds to create “campaign ads,” and eliminating the cost of living adjustments for state employees are just some of the “highlights” of his gubernatorial scandals in New Jersey.
Still, hopes run high, and the money is beginning to flow for Christie, whose supporters set up a super PAC under his 2016 slogan, “Tell it Like it Is.”
“Governor Christie has proven he’s unafraid to tell it like it is and is willing to confront the hard truths that currently threaten the future of the Republican Party,” Brian Jones, the PAC’s executive director, said. “Now more than ever, we need leaders that have the courage to say not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.”
Of course, for Trump supporters, this statement is a yawn-inducing clone of the former president’s style. After all, Trump says things that no one wants to hear in the first place, and it kept his spicy presidency as entertaining as it was effective.
If Christie wants to be taken seriously, his views need to be deeper than “vote for me because Trump stinks.” After all, that’s the common mantra for all the Republican candidates. And the pool is getting deeper nearly every day, with the most notable seven being Trump, DeSantis, Haley, Hutchinson, Ramaswamy, Scott, and Stapleton. Pence is also widely expected to dive in on June 7th.
Christie’s re-emergence in the 2024 race is unexpected and surprising to most. Like a game of Whack-a-Mole no one ever wanted to play, the former New Jersey governor is popping his head up briefly before getting knocked back down by more relevant contenders.