Chris Christie is the lead actor in a new movie. It’s a short film, no more than 20 minutes or so, yet its backer—the Republican Governors Assn.—expects to reap millions in donations from his brief appearance. The moody film features black-and-white images flashing by—storm clouds, campaign rallies, and urgent news clips from election-night broadcasts. A Republican has won the governor’s race in New Jersey, a Democratic stronghold, and the party of Barack Obama has been rendered powerless by his take-no-prisoners style.
In less than eight months in office, Christie, a 47-year-old former prosecutor and lobbyist, has risen from an unknown to a signal attraction in the fund-raising and messaging wars. “I think he’s a star,” says Ed Rollins, who directed campaigns in 1984 for President Ronald Reagan and in 1993 for Christine Todd Whitman, the last Republican elected governor of New Jersey. (Rollins bragged of suppressing the anti-Whitman vote, then retracted the claim.)
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