As Governor Chris Christie prepares for his speech Tuesday at the Reagan Library, some conservatives are hoping (despite Christie’s repeated denials) that he will use the occasion to jump into the presidential race. If those conservatives bothered to look at Christie’s biography, they would realize he has a deep-seated commitment to reforming New Jersey. Dangling the bright, shiny glitz and glitter of a presidential campaign won’t sway him. Period.
Once upon a time, a young Christie graduated from law school and joined a New Jersey law firm, where he quickly made partner. For most lawyers, that would be enough, but not for Christie. In 2001, he became New Jersey’s U.S. attorney, a position he held for seven years.
No doubt Christie took a pay cut when he accepted the U.S. attorney job. He could have moved on after a couple of years to a well-paying position as a partner at a white-shoe law firm, but he didn’t. The money Christie could have made — what economists call “opportunity costs” — was substantial.
And the U.S. attorney job was stressful to boot. During his tenure, he took on over 130 crooked politicians, 45 gang members and a huge network of child pornographers.
Then he ran for the governorship — and won. As governor, Christie has done some incredible things (many through his executive orders and line-item vetoes), but it will take time to effect lasting changes in New Jersey’s political culture. I believe Christie understands this. Likewise, he must know that he cannot simultaneously run for president and be a hands-on governor. He would have to walk away from his governorship to run for president, and that would mean leaving much of his present job undone.
No doubt, the liberals in the New Jersey State Legislature and their chums in the public employees’ unions have a list of Christie actions to be zapped only moments after he leaves office. Yes, Christie has a strong lieutenant governor, but, let’s face it, there’s nobody quite like him when it comes to turning the ship of state around.
Christie won’t jeopardize the reforms he has instituted in New Jersey for a chance to become president, because, strange as it may seem to my D.C. friends, there is somebody who loves New Jersey (yes, New Jersey!). His name is Chris Christie.