Chris Christie is a US politician who was nominated by President Donald Trump to chair the Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission in 2017. He is a former Federal attorney and political commentator who was New Jersey’s 55th governor, and their most unpopular Governor in over 20 years.
And while history might have a split opinion of his time in office, there is no doubt on an individual level that Chris Christie has had a successful career. From his college years to public service, it has been one significant role after the other, notably shaping America’s history in the process.
His Political Journey Began in High School Where He Served As Class President
Chris Christie was born in Newark, New Jersey, on 6th September, 1962. He was raised in Livingston by his parents, Sondra A, a telephone receptionist, and Wilbur James Christie, a public accountant. His parents were politically conscious. His father was a Republican and his mother, a Democrat.
This interest in political participation spurred Chris to pursue politics early on. Following his family relocation to Livingston, New Jersey, after the 1967 Newark riots, he attended Livingston High School. There, he got his first taste of leadership as class president.
Besides his participation in high school politics, he played catcher for the baseball team. He was also the New Jersey Representative to the United States Senate Youth Program. Post-high school, he attended the University of Delaware, graduating in 1984 with a degree in Political Science and was also president of the student body.
He then went to law school at Seton Hall University, graduating with a J.D in 1987. He became a member of the New Jersey State and United States District Court in December 1987. After completing his education, Chris Christie began his profession at a New Jersey law firm.
From Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci, Chris Christie Found his Feet in Local New Jersey Politics
He began his professional journey at a Cranford, New Jersey with Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci. Six years after joining the firm, he was named partner, having impressed in his specialties in securities law, appellate practice, election law, and government affairs.
In 1999, he became a registered statehouse lobbyist for the firm and worked for various entities. Some of them include GPU Energy, Securities Industry Association, the University of Phoenix, and Hackensack University Medical Center. His stint as a lobbyist ended in 2001 when he moved to the next phase of his career.
However, before moving on and during his days as a private lawyer, he became a member of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders. His foray into politics began with a volunteer position for President George H.W Bush’s reelection campaign in 1992.
Chris Christie tried running for State Senate after. However, his campaign ended after his opponent, John H. Dorsey, filed and won a petition against his name’s validity on the ballot. After the failed bid in 1993, he secured his first post in public office in 1994 after his election into the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
As a freeholder, he required the county government to obtain three quotes from qualified firms for all contracts. He also led the effort to bar county officials from receiving gifts from businesses and people in the county. He recorded other achievements in the position and, in turn, tried to leverage it for a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly.
However, he lost by a considerable margin to incumbent Assemblyman Anthony Bucco and Michael Patrick Carroll. Although he tried returning to the freeholder board, he failed. However, an appointment by President George W. Bush put him back in public service.
The Former Governor Served As A US Attorney From January 2002 To December 2008
Despite some opposition from the Democratic party members, Chris Christie got confirmed as a US Attorney for the District of New Jersey on December 20, 2001. His nomination by US President George W. Bush received unanimous approval by the US Senate and he resumed office on January 17, 2002.
He oversaw 137 attorneys spread across offices in Camden, Newark, and Trenton. While he was a US attorney, Chris was also a member of the 17-member Advisory Committee of US Attorneys for two Attorney Generals. During his term, he made public corruption a high priority alongside terrorism.
His office also recorded convictions or guilty pleas from 130 public officials from members of both parties at state, county, and local levels. Some of his high-profile convictions include County Executive Robert C. Janiszewski on bribery charges, James W. Treffinger on corruption charges, and John A. Lynch on mail fraud and tax evasion.
Other achievements include the conviction of brothel owners who kept Mexican teenagers as prostitutes. He also arrested and secured 42 gang members’ convictions for various crimes, including over 25 murders. Chris’s term was particularly notable for prosecuting the planners of the failed 2007 Fort Dix attack plot.
After an admirable six years, Chris Christie left his position as US Attorney and registered his intention to run for the Governorship of New Jersey.
He Served Two Terms As A Republican Governor Of New Jersey
Less than a month after leaving the US Attorney’s office, Chris filed documents as a candidate for the Governor’s office on January 8, 2009. He received significant help from former Governor Thomas Kean, who helped him raise money and convince party members and voters.
During the Republican Primary, he competed against Steve Lonegan and Rick Merkt, defeating both by winning 55% of the vote. In the general election against Democratic candidate and incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, he won 49% of the vote on November 3, 2009.
He assumed office on January 19, 2010, and his tenure was a mixed bag in various policy sectors. For instance, he vetoed a New Jersey Legislature bill that would have raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.5 per hour. He also vetoed bills designed to ensure equal pay for women. Still, he signed a bill that required employers to post notices of employees’ rights to equal pay.
Fiscally, Chris Christie delivered balanced budgets throughout his first term in office. He also lowered state income and business taxes. Chris did just enough to secure reelection in 2013. He defeated Democratic candidate Barbara Buono with more than 60% of the vote, the first Governor to achieve the feat since 1985.
However, he lost most of his popularity during his second term. Multiple polls in 2016 found his approval rating had dropped to less than 30%, with one survey recording 64% disapproval. By April 2017, a poll found he was the least popular Governor in the United States, with a disapproval rating of 71%.
According to a Quinnipiac poll, when he finally left office on January 16, 2018, Chris had less than a 15% approval rating. It was the lowest recorded approval rating of a New Jersey governor in history and the lowest recorded by the body for any governor in any state in two decades.
Chris Christie Was Chairman Of The Republican Governors Association
During his time as Governor, Chris Christie’s popularity helped him secure an additional national politics role. In November 2013, he was elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA). As chair, Chris frequently campaigned for Republican governors seeking reelection and helped the association raise a lot of money.
In the first three months of 2014, he led the RGA to a record sum in the first quarter of a mid-term election year. The $23.5 million raised by the association was almost double its Democratic counterpart in the same period. His tenure in the role also saw Republican candidates gain three governorship seats in major Democratic states, in Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
After A Failed Presidential Run, He Had A Brief Role In President Trump’s Administration
Based on the popularity of his first term as Governor, there were rumours that Chris Christie considered a presidential run in 2012. However, despite flirting with the idea, he chose not to pursue it until 2015, when he officially filed to run for the 2016 Presidential race.
He competed in the Republican primary but dropped out early into the race after a poor showing in the New Hampshire Primary in 2016. Chris later endorsed Donald Trump for President and joined his transition team. His early exit from the run also made him a potential candidate for the Vice-Presidential slot. However, the position ultimately went to Mike Pence.
Despite receiving offers to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security and Secretary of Veterans Affairs, he turned them down and served out his term as Governor. Before leaving office, however, he joined President Donald Trump’s administration as the chair of the Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission.
As chair of the advisory committee, he crafted and supported various efforts to curtail the opioid epidemic. He agreed to spend $500 million in his state to promote the Reach NJ campaign, which includes awareness efforts through ads. He held the role between March 2017 to November 2017.
After leaving the role and his office as Governor, he joined WeRecover, a tech firm based in Santa Monica, California, as Senior Advisor on Strategy and Public Policy. The role is one of several ventures the former Governor has engaged since leaving active public service.
He Published A Book And Worked As A Network Contributor For ABC News
With Chris Christie back to being a private citizen, he leveraged his experience and popularity to secure a couple of gigs. In January 2018, he joined ABC News as a political commentator and regular network contributor. He has appeared on the station ever since, often defending and promoting policies of the Trump administration.
A year after, he published a book titled Let Me Finish – an autobiography about his life, political career, and controversial endorsement of then-candidate Donald Trump. The book performed modestly commercially after received mostly negative reviews from critics.
Chris Christie Is Back To Being A Lobbyist Now
In a way, the former New Jersey Governor’s career has come full circle. After what has turned out to be a long and accomplished career, he returned to being a lobbyist. Expected to hold the role concurrently with his ABC News gig, he registered as a lobbyist in June 2020.
He has been lobbying for the Tennessee-based chain of addiction treatment centres and three New Jersey hospital systems for federal funding. The gig has fetched him $240,000 thus far, with more remuneration expected in the future.
He has also continued his relationship with the Trump administration. Chris Christie was part of the team that prepared President Donald Trump for the Presidential Election Debate in 2020. Between these roles, Chris has been enjoying a productive and quieter post-gubernatorial career with his family.
He Is Married To An Investment Banker And A Fellow Delaware Alum
In 1986, Chris Christie got married to Mary Pat Foster. The two were students at the University of Delaware, where they presumably met and started a relationship. After they got married, they had a humble beginning, sharing a studio apartment in Summit, New Jersey.
His wife, Mary Pat Foster, who was First Lady during his Governorship tenure, was born to an Irish Catholic family and the ninth of ten children. Like Chris, she was president of her class in 1985, a year below the former Governor’s. After graduation, she earned an MBA at Seton Hall University, too, before pursuing a career in investment banking.
She worked for a Wall Street investment firm, Cantor Fitzgerald, before leaving in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. She joined and later became a managing director at Angelo, Gordon & Co. For years, she was the family’s primary breadwinner, earning more than 70% of the family’s declared income up until 2015. She quit her position at the firm in April 2015 to spend more time with her family.
They Have Four Children And Still Live In New Jersey
Since they got married, Chris Christie and Mary Pat Foster have given birth to four children. They have two sons and daughters, born between 1993 and 2003. Their first child, Andrew, was born in 1993 while their second, Sarah, was born in 1996. They gave birth to their third and last born, Patrick and Bridget, in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
Throughout their marriage, the family has lived in New Jersey, in Mendham Township. When Chris became a governor, the family chose to remain in the town rather than move into the Governor’s mansion in Princeton, New Jersey. They primarily made the decision to prevent their children from changing schools.