The unlikely emergence of Chris Christie proves once again that you can never tell who is going to take off in the public imagination. The New Jersey governor not only rocked on the 2010 campaign trail, he quickly became a regular on short lists of Republican presidential prospects.
A year ago, the new Republican governor to watch was the one who prevailed in the only other gubernatorial race of 2009, Bob McDonnell of Virginia. The even-tempered, perfectly coiffed McDonnell ran a textbook campaign, won by 17 percentage points and was chosen to give the televised GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
To the north, in a different kind of campaign, Christie was demanding that Gov. Jon Corzine “man up and say I’m fat” in response to Corzine ads that made unsubtle allusions to Christie’s size. Toward the end, conservative columnist Paul Mulshine suggested Christie’s campaign might be the worst-run in state history and accused him of “trying to reinvent the flat tire.”