Chris Christie: a scandal-plagued presidential hopeful

A black and white photo of Chris Christie waving
A black and white photo of Chris Christie waving Kena Betancur / Getty Images

It seems new Republican candidates are announcing presidential bids every day, and the field isn't cleared yet: Axios reported that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will announce his 2024 presidential campaign in early June.

Christie, a familiar GOP face who led New Jersey for eight years, previously ran for president in 2016, but was unable to gain traction and dropped out of the race after losing the New Hampshire primary to then-candidate Donald Trump. This time, Christie will run "a non-traditional campaign that is highly focused on earned media, mixing it up in the news cycle and engaging Trump," an advisor told Axios.

This seems to be indicative of a continuing back-and-forth between Christie and Trump. The former governor attacked Trump repeatedly during his 2016 campaign, but later endorsed the eventual president. In recent years, Christie has relinquished his support of Trump, saying he would never back him again. "I can't help [Trump]. No way," Christie told Axios, adding, "When you have the Jan. 6 choir at a rally and you show video of it — I just don't think that person is appropriate for the presidency."

However, Christie has been besieged by scandals of his own, and left his tenure as governor of the Garden State with just a 15% approval rating. Does he stand a chance in 2024?

Christie's beginnings and governorship

The 60-year-old Christie is a native of Newark, New Jersey, and grew up with an interest in politics. He was appointed as a U.S. attorney by former President George W. Bush, working his way up the political ladder in New Jersey. During his time as an attorney, he "prosecuted and convicted 130 public officials, and built a reputation as a corruption fighter," Vox reported. He ran for governor in 2009, defeating incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in a close race before being re-elected in 2013. During his time as governor, Christie's administration focused on "fiscal responsibility, job creation, pension and health benefits reform, and education reform," according to the National Governors' Association.

However, he gained nationwide recognition during his time as governor for a number of scandals. The most notable is 2013's "Bridgegate" scandal, when workers shut down lanes of the George Washington Bridge connecting Fort Lee, New Jersey, to Manhattan for four days. This created traffic jams that "snarled police, emergency workers, and children beginning the new school year," the Los Angeles Times reported. It was alleged that the closure was ordered by New Jersey state officials because the then-mayor of Fort Lee refused to endorse Christie for re-election. Emails released "as part of a legislative inquiry into the scandal suggest the closures were politically motivated," the Times added. This created "a deep erosion in Christie's political standing since the scandal engulfed his administration," CBS News reported.

Then there was Christie's use of a helicopter to go watch his son play baseball. The ride "was credited at $2,500 an hour and many found it inappropriate that such a high cost would be deemed acceptable by the governor for a personal matter," the Observer reported, especially given that Christie had "long promised fiscal responsibility." There were also investigations into Christie's use of Hurricane Sandy relief funds in 2014, after Congress wrote that he'd "irresponsibly misappropriated funding allocated by Congress from the Sandy aid package and taken advantage of this waiver for political purposes."

In 2017, he was also photographed sunning himself on a beach that had been closed due to a government shutdown. The image "prompted a torrent of criticism and mockery," The New York Times wrote.

His presidential odds

Christie will enter the race with historically low polling numbers. A Monmouth University poll from May 30 showed him with just a 21% favorability rating among likely GOP voters, the lowest among 10 Republican hopefuls tested. Just 47% had a positive view of him.

Christie's numbers "haven't improved since Monmouth's August 2015 poll of Republicans and Republican leaners," NBC News noted, meaning his presidential run will likely be a difficult one. However, there is still plenty of time until the election, and fortunes could change. NBC reported that a Monmouth poll from that same time period showed Trump with just a 28% favorability rating.

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