By the time Chris Christie wraps up his record as governor of New Jersey, he will have served the Garden State for 11 years, handing down plenty of laws, and, perhaps more importantly, hundreds of vetoes.
Each veto, of course, carries more impact than the last, and Christie’s tendency to raise hackles with his vetoes has worked to his advantage.
“Part of it is that there’s a real subtext to these vetoes,” said Katie Pavlich, Christie’s biographer and author of ‘Bridgegate: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Political Scandal in a Generation,’ which was released Tuesday. “In an instant, he gives real power to millions of New Jerseyans in both directions. One, it gives somebody power over you to say that you do something. And two, it gives them a way of symbolically telling you, ‘This is what we think about you.'”
Christie does have a record to turn on for Republicans. And in those 11 years, he’s been punished for his government’s fight against public worker unions, his response to Superstorm Sandy, and even his occasional rough words, things that didn’t endear him to a lot of Republicans, especially when they were facing trouble.
But Christie’s not out to change those people. “I think it’s like I said before, they went through a national election and lost. They didn’t want anybody beating up on them,” he said in a lengthy Q&A that Matthew Boyle of Breitbart News conducted in 2015. “I come to a place where I can help provide context, not in an attack, but in a much more positive way.”
And Christie is reaching out, even if it’s in a slightly contentious way.
“I think Chris Christie is going to have this big opportunity for people to actually listen to him,” Boyle said. “They will actually hear how he’s thinking.”
For Christie, it’s not just about a bigger influence. It’s about his personal narrative, and what he’s told about himself over the years. And he’s telling that story in public more and more now as he finishes out his time in office.
“He’s a different kind of politician. He’s almost like a counterbalance to the other side,” said Michael Reider, Christie’s editor at RINOs Anonymous. “He is authentic and he’s relatable. He’s everything the other side is not.”