The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

January 29, 2014

Chris Christie in 2016? Don't count him out yet

His press coverage has been brutal. His poll numbers are dropping. His enemies inside and outside his party are crowing that his presidential ambitions are over, and some journalists agree.

It would nonetheless be a mistake to count out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the Republican nomination in 2016. The scandals that have plagued Christie lately may even, in a roundabout way, make him more likely to win the presidency.

Some skepticism about Christie's presidential chances predates the Fort Lee scandal (in which his subordinates are accused of orchestrating a traffic jam to punish an uncooperative mayor). It's mostly based on the idea that Christie is too liberal to win the primaries. But Christie doesn't cross any of the party's red lines: He's not pro-choice, and he's not for higher taxes.

Sure, you can draw up a list of issues where he has been out of step with most Republicans. But the party's last two nominees had longer lists, with more important issues on them. Mitt Romney had a recent history of supporting legal abortion, and his record on the top domestic issue of the past few years - health care - put him at odds with conservatives. Sen. John McCain had broken with them on taxes, guns, climate change, stem cells, immigration, campaign finance and more.

Most of the last seven Republican nominations have gone to people to the left of the party's center of gravity, and none of them to anyone on its right. Why is that? Think of the nominating contest as a competition for the affection of three groups: the activist-conservative base of the party (groups like the Club for Growth and the Family Research Council), the party regulars (people who consider themselves "conservative" but not "very conservative"), and the party establishment (elected officials, campaign operatives, big donors).

The base typically splits its vote among several candidates, including a few who don't strike the regulars as commander-in-chief material. The establishment always picks someone who passes that test, and usually picks him early in the process, before the first primary votes are cast. (Unlike the base, it doesn't display much imagination in making its choice.) So the establishment candidate usually wins.

The 2016 primary might not shape up this way, but that's the way to bet. The race will almost certainly feature crowding on the right once again, and the establishment still seems to favor Christie over any of his competitors, even after the traffic scandal.

In New Hampshire, Christie should do well, especially if Hillary Clinton dominates the Democratic field. In that case, independents will vote in the competitive Republican primary rather than the dull Democratic one, and they will surely back Christie over candidates running to his right.

Christie was never going to have a coronation, however, and the primaries will still be a slog. Two early states, Iowa and South Carolina, aren't great fits for him. Although he could appeal to a lot of Florida Republicans, he might be running against home-state favorites, such as Sen. Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush. If Bush runs - and his intentions aren't at all clear - then Christie might have a real struggle holding establishment support.

For now, though, Christie's chances of winning the nomination seem better than those of anyone else. And his recent troubles may help him insofar as they cause him to discard a risky strategy. Before the last few weeks, he may have thought that after winning the nomination his sheer charisma would lead him to a general-election victory. Many Republicans think that it was Romney's lack of charisma that lost him the presidency in 2012. That's a mistake: The actual electoral difficulties of the Republican Party run much deeper than that.

The traffic scandal makes it less likely that Christie will go down this blind alley. It has made the downside of his personality loom larger, and so will force him to base his campaign on something else. And because of the nature of the scandal, and the partisan reaction to it, that "something else" can't just be his effectiveness as a manager of government or as a leader who can reach across the aisle.

It seems to me, then, that the most promising path left open for Christie is to run as a Republican from outside the boardroom: someone who will tackle, in conservative ways, the issues that concern Americans in all income groups - from the affordability of health care to wage growth.

If Christie does that, he will also be leading the way forward for his party.

             

 

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Jason O. Boyd I may be a bit behind the times, but at least I can find ‘America’

    I seem to be reading about and dealing with technology a lot lately.
    I  love technology and have always been fascinated by gadgets of all kinds and the wonderful things they can do. You never seem to go through an entire day without some form of invention enhancing your life.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Meeting out in open helps negotiations move ahead

    RALEIGH – State lawmakers reconvened in Raleigh on May 14 promising a brief legislative session this summer, but as July moves along they are still in town and tackling big issues.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Larry's Sketch 7.16.14.tif They don’t give a darn for Duke University

    John “Duke” Wayne’s heirs are suing Duke University over trademark rights.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    WASHINGTON - For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Patrick Gannon Don’t forget the losers in state lottery

    RALEIGH – Behind every state lottery dollar that goes to education is a loser.
    There’s also a winner – the teacher whose salary it pays, the student who gets a scholarship or the district where a new school gets built. But we hear about the winners in advertisements and in press releases.
    This column is about the losers.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hodgepodge Cooling an overheated hedgehog and other summer travel stories

    Anybody with a pet during the summer inevitably finds themselves facing this question: What do I do with my pet on vacation?
    There are kennels for dogs, day cares for cats. Shoot, you can even find a friend to take care of your guinea pig.
    But what do you do with a hedgehog?

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • North Carolina Boasts Top Wildlife Magazine and A Success Story

    The following opinion piece was released by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission:

    RALEIGH  — When Wildlife in North Carolina, the magazine published by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was named recently as the nation’s best in its category, it reflected more than accolades as a quality publication.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    CHICAGO - A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 25 hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    Yankovic's 14th album was released this week, and it warms my heart containers that he's kept up his geeky brand of humor for so long. While he has written so many incredible songs, none have spoken to my love of proper grammar.
    Until "Word Crimes."

    July 16, 2014

  • 90-plus welcome to birthday party 

    The Stanly County Senior Center will host our eighth annual 90+ Birthday Party for all Stanly County residents who are 90 years or greater. This event will be held at the Senior Center on July 30 at 2 p.m. The theme this year is “An Afternoon with Old Blue Eyes.”

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content