Christie’s gubernatorial re-election bucks D.C. establishment


By Yaël Ossowski |

Even before the ink on the final ballot was dry Tuesday, a certain class of political observers were busying their keyboards with the takeaway that the vote in New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie‘s favor served as nothing more than a proverbial catapult for the nation’s highest office in Washington, D.C.


“The win gives Christie momentum as he decides whether to enter presidential politics,” said CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in Republican politics who doesn’t think he’s running in 2016,” chimed New York Magazine‘s John Heilemann on MSNBC.

This week’s TIME magazine did one better, putting Christie on the front cover and dedicating the issue to exactly how he’ll seize the day, run the party and headline the 2016 presidential election.

In a sense, this is exactly what the Washington, D.C., political and media establishment love. They love stories surrounding someone’s future intentions and interpreting present actions as bold power moves dedicated to claiming a higher power.

But if Christie’s re-election is analyzed correctly, it actually upsets the establishment more than one would expect.

“My pledge to you is that I will govern with the spirit of Sandy,” Christie told the crowd of gathered supporters at his victory speech.

He pledged to continue with his usual style and grace and celebrated the “New Jersey Way” of governing. He emphasized the work to be done for New Jersey in the field of reforming taxes and finances, and working to keep the state accountable to its residents.

Christie did not harp on the federal government shutdown, nor did he call attention to partisan opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Instead, he focused on New Jersey issues primarily reserved for a New Jersey audience. He remained a hometown boy while the nation watched and the pundits and journalists pieced together his fortune.

Instead of bowing to the national narrative, Christie acted as a governor and not a political campaigner aiming for higher office. He spoke to the concerns of state voters and cast outside the horse race political fever grasping so many in the media.

In this sense, therefore, Christie did buck the establishment. He shunned the preoccupations of the national politicos and opinion makers, making sure he remains accountable to the people of his state, not the entrenched establishment in the nation’s capital. Now it’s time to get back to business.

Contact Yaël Ossowski at and follow him on Twitter @YaelOss

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