Chris Christie’s 21-year political career has been filled with peaks and valleys. The New Jersey governor was once considered a leading contender to become a GOP presidential candidate, though he can’t seem to stay clear of the controversy that’s followed him since the mid-1990s.
As he considers a run for the White House in 2016, here are eight facts about Christie’s political background.
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Christie got his start in politics in the 1970s at just 15. He showed up on the doorstep of Tom Kean, who’d spoken at Christie’s school, and asked the then-assemblyman how to succeed in politics. Christie became a campaign volunteer and protégé to Kean
, later volunteering during George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns.
After becoming a partner in a private law firm, where he focused on elections and government, Christie ran for office for the first time in 1993. However, he was kicked off the ballot when it was discovered that he didn’t have enough valid signatures to qualify for the New Jersey state senate race.
3. Christie took another stab at politics in 1994
, with his sights set on a more local role. He won a seat as a legislator for Morris County, where he focused on tax and ethics reform and tackled national issues such as partial-birth abortions.
Just a few months after assuming his county position, Christie made a failed run for state assembly in 1995
. He ran on a pro-choice, anti-assault weapon ticket. Christie gathered the fewest votes among four candidates, returning to serve out his Morris County term.
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In 2002, Bush appointed Christie U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey. Christie held the role through 2008, targeting issues such as political corruption, terrorism, human trafficking, and corporate crime.
Christie was elected governor of New Jersey in 2009 and re-elected in 2013. He’s worked to lower state property taxes, reform the state’s pension system, streamline health benefits and bolster funding for schools. Christie’s approval ratings shot through the roof following his aggressive response to Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Bridgegate: In September 2013, Christie’s allies allegedly had a lane of the busy George Washington Bridge shut down to get revenge against one of his political foes. A recent report from a joint legislative panel states it’s not clear
whether Christie knew about the plan. The damage was done, however, and Christie’s popularity plummeted.
Christie continues to polarize his party. The husband and father of four takes a moderate stance on some conservative issues and has a history of bitter run-ins with fellow GOP members. Some praise his aggressive ambition and tendency to speak his mind, while others fear Christie won’t be able to unite the Republican Party if he decides to throw his hat in the 2016 presidential ring.
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