TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has announced he will seek re-election to a second term. Christie said he wants New Jerseyans to know that he’s “in this for the long haul.”
On Monday, Christie came to the Port Monmouth Fire Department to meet with first responders and it was also where he announced he will seek another term, saying Hurricane Sandy is the major reason.
“The person who has helped to lead them through the initial crisis wants to be here to lead them through the rebuilding and restoration of our state. It would be wrong for me to leave now,” Christie told reporters, including CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.
The Republican governor has gotten high marks for his handling of the hurricane.
About the only criticism directed his way since Superstorm Sandy attacked the coast in late October has come from fellow Republicans, who have lambasted him for embracing President Barack Obama as the two toured New Jersey’s ravaged coastline six days before the presidential election.
Some even blame Christie for tipping a close election to the president. The governor filed paperwork on Monday, allowing him to set up campaign headquarters, hire staff and raise money.
So far, only a handful of Democrats, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, have thought about running for their party’s nomination.
The governor has had a close relationship with Booker, but said he’s ready to challenge anyone.
“I am running. I’m in this race. I’m in this race to win and to win re-election and to continue to lead the state that I love and that I’m passionate about,” Christie said.
Christie carried the Democratic-leaning state by 86,000 votes in 2009, an upset win over Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine.
Christie, who has become a national figure during his first term, is riding an unprecedented wave of popularity because of how he handled the storm. Even Democrats have applauded his hands-on response.
He appeared on “Saturday Night Live” in his trademark fleece pullover this month to lampoon his own nationally televised storm briefings.
Christie was the first governor to endorse Mitt Romney; he raised $18.2 million for the GOP nominee and crisscrossed the country as an in-demand surrogate for Republican candidates.
Some are still questioning his party loyalty, however, as they did after Christie delivered the keynote address at the party’s nominating convention in Tampa. Critics saw that August speech as too much about Christie and not enough about Romney.
Christie was courted by some Republican bigwigs to enter the presidential contest early on, but he spurned their overtures and later ruled himself out as vice presidential material as well. Buzz over a Christie 2016 run has become muted since the governor boarded Marine One with Obama.
Christie’s reputation for bluntness and penchant for confrontation have made him a YouTube sensation and sometimes obscured policy changes he has championed.
With the help of Democrats who control both houses of the state Legislature, Christie took on public worker unions, enacting sweeping pension and health benefits changes that cost workers more and are designed to shore up the underfunded public worker retirement and health care systems long-term. He also enacted a 2 percent property tax cap with few loopholes to try and slow the annual growth rate of property taxes, already the highest in the nation at an average of $7,519 when adjusted for rebates.
Christie’s education reforms have been slower to accomplish, and Democrats have refused to budge on his signature issue for this year, a phased-in 10 percent tax cut. With tax collections underperforming the administration’s projections and storm rebuilding threatening to eat further into revenues, Democrats are unlikely to waiver on their position that the state can’t afford the cut.
Christie himself also said he will not talk about whether he will run for president in 2016, saying he has a lot of work to do in the Garden State first.
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