Are you a Chris Christie Republican?
The overweight and bombastic governor of New Jersey has gone from an unknown to a "need-to-know" politician in less than 3 years and seems to be redefining what being a Republican is all about.
Those of us who identify with the Republican Party are not monolithic. We know that not every Republican is a good leader, nor do we agree with all the views Republican candidates hold. Instead, we gravitate toward certain sub-sets of the party. Therefore, there are Reagan Republicans, Eisenhower Republicans, Goldwater Republicans and Christian conservative Republicans just to name a few of the larger groups.
Each historical figure or ideological movement represents a version of the Republican brand. Today, there is no clear leader of the national Republican Party or the limited government movement.
Enter Chris Christie. In just three years on the national stage, he has avoided being labeled by existing notions of political alliances. Instead, he is doing what all great political leaders do: carving out a niche for himself.
Christie stunned the political world in 2009 when he defeated incumbent New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine to become the first Republican in 12 years to win a statewide race in the Garden State. As governor of a largely Democratic leaning state (Obama won by 16.5% in 2008 and 18% in 2012), he was surprisingly aggressive in his agenda to reshape state government, slash public spending and reduce state payroll taxes.
Christie became the national poster child for a new generation of Republican governors who took an aggressive, in-your-face attitude toward public sector unions, liberal activists and the media.
During the 2012 Presidential election, he delivered the keynote address of the Republican National Convention. The address earned him a national media spotlight; but, it was his role as governor during Hurricane Sandy that made the largest impact on the race. Christie blasted House Republicans for holding up relief aide and praised President Obama for his administrations response to the disaster. The governor even went out of his way to tell reporters that he "did not give a damn" about the 2012 election because his responsibilities as governor of a devastated state were too important to politicize.
Despite being lambasted by the left in his first year in office and the right in his most recent year as governor, Christie is flying high in New Jersey with 70%+ approval ratings and likely coasting to an easy re-election despite the state's historical Democratic leanings.
Christie is not the only governor who has adopted a "take no prisoners" approach with success. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, Michigan governor Rick Snyder and Ohio governor John Kasich are all in a similar position to Christie. However, Christie is the only one who has openly voiced displeasure with his own national party. His appearance in Chicago this weekend for the Clinton Global Initiative conference further demonstrates how little he cares about his conservative, national counterparts.
That last point is the critical difference between Christie and other rebellious Republicans. To be a Chris Christie Republican is to be an outspoken rebel, willing to express the frustration of voters with both establishment parties.
The definition of a Chris Christie Republican can best be summarized as an aggressive disposition toward your convictions while not give a damn about what anyone, anywhere has to say about it. Further, when questioned by your allies, double down on your controversial position until it becomes the accepted norm.
Christie is a politician, thus prone to take politically advantageous positions. His vetoing of a gay marriage bill last year showed that while he has guts, he lacked the intestinal fortitude to risk his 2016 chances for a bill that he probably had not real personal or legal issue with.
Whether you like or dislike the New Jersey governor, his leadership style has earned him positive national attention, more than can be said for almost any other nationally recognized Republican leader of today. Unlike many of his ultra conservative critics, he is a proven political winner as an underdog in a highly competitive state. He is leading a new group of elected Republicans leaders that are redefining a wing of the party.
It is too early to tell what impact Christie will have on the 2016 Republican Presidential primary; but, it is safe to say that if he enters, he won't hold back. Holding your tongue is strictly prohibited among Christie Republicans, and New Jerseyans in general
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