Rob Horowitz: Chris Christie’s Big Moment Is Coming Soon
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Ahead of his Democratic opponent State Senator Barbara Buono by nearly 2-to-1 according to a recent Quinnipiac Poll, Christie is cruising to a landslide re-election victory this November in one of our nation’s bluest states. This off-year victory will seem all the more impressive because in all likelihood it will be contrasted to the near certain defeat of the more hardline conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli.
For the significant percentage of Republican primary voters and big money contributors whom are dismayed by the failure of the Tea Party-generated strategy of tying the shutdown to a delay in Obamacare, and the consequent drop of the Republican Party to all-time lows in voter approval, Governor Christie’s big electoral success will be a welcome antidote.
The timing of Christie’s big win in the wake of the dismal failure of Washington Republicans will likely make his re-election victory an even better launching pad for his all-but-certain presidential campaign than his savvy and nationally experienced political team anticipated. During the shutdown, Chrisite avoided the specifics, but blasted Washington for an inability to get things done.
While it is too early to tell whether other Republican governors with records of effectiveness will join Christie in the presidential race, and a number of others have expressed at least some interest, it is likely that the Tea Party right flank of the party will be more crowded with candidates, giving the New Jersey governor another potential advantage. Watching Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) scrambling to catch up with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in a contest over who could be the most unreasonable gives one the picture.
A big advantage
Further, Chris Christie’s tough but engaging personality will serve him well. Republican primary opponents may succeed in portraying him as insufficiently conservative, too close to President Obama, and too willing to work in a bi-partisan manner, but they are not going to convince voters that he is doing so out of weakness.
Then-Governor George Bush's positioning in his successful 2000 presidential campaign provides a potential roadmap for Governor Christie. In familiar echoes to today, Governor Bush positioned himself as someone able to get things done and work across party lines—a different kind of Republican, and a 'compassionate conservative'. This provided a strong contrast to the unpopular Gingrich-led House Republicans who moved to impeach President Clinton and had their own shutdown debacle.
It is a long way until 2016 and anything can happen. But for Chris Christie, for whom the presidential race begins the day after his re-election victory on November 5, it is teed up for a rip-roaring start.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
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