Jill Lawrence, Politics Daily
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 aÂ textbook campaign, won by 17 percentage points and was chosen to give theÂ 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 theÂ worst-run in state history and accused him of “trying to reinvent the flat tire.”
A four-point victory transformed Christie’s standing but not his style. Between battles with Democrats and their allies, he raised nearly $9 million this year for Republican candidates, according to political adviser Mike DuHaime (considerably more than McDonnell’s $2.5 million). Throughout, the former federal prosecutor has maintained a trademark manner so blunt and combative that the Quinnipiac University Poll routinely asks New Jersey residents whether they consider him a leader or a bully.Â “Leader” has hovered at 50 percent in recent months.
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