Chris Christie served as the 55th Governor of the State of New Jersey from January 2010 to January 2018. Prior to his tenure as Governor of New Jersey, Christie was the presidentially appointed United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, serving as the Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer. He earned praise from leaders in both parties for his service and drew national attention for his successes in battling political corruption, corporate crime, human trafficking, gangs, terrorism and environmental polluters.
In his eight years as Governor, he focused on revitalizing New Jersey’s economy, creating private sector jobs, education reform, reducing the size and cost of government and reducing taxes for New Jersey’s citizens. From 2010 to today, the state unemployment rate was cut in half, 325,000 new private sector jobs were created, 10,000 fewer people work for state government than when he took office, business taxes were reduced by $3 billion, the estate tax was eliminated and more New Jerseyans are employed today than at any time in the state’s history.
The true strength of Christie’s leadership revealed itself as he led his state through the recovery and rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy, the second largest natural disaster in American history. He developed 97 new state programs to deal with recovery from the over $50 billion in damage, negotiated the federal aid package with Congress and the White House, authorized a public ad campaign to protect New Jersey’s $44 billion tourism industry, and handled the rebuilding of homes, infrastructure and private businesses. Within five years, Moody’s concluded that New Jersey was rebuilt and was more resilient than it was prior to the storm.
Recognizing the rapid rise in deaths due to drug overdose, Christie focused on his state’s response to the opioid overdose crisis by developing new approaches that made treatment more broadly available, empowered law enforcement to save lives by equipping all of them with overdose reversing Narcan, expanded drug courts and worked with the medical and pharmaceutical industry to place new restrictions on opioid prescriptions leading to the most restrictive policy in the nation. His record led President Trump to name him Chairman of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Governor Christie led this bi-partisan group in multiple hearings and site visits that informed 65 recommendations to fight this epidemic, all of which have since been adopted by the current Administration.
Education was also a major focus during Christie’s tenure as Governor. In Higher Education, he advocated for and achieved the largest public university merger in American history when Rutgers University merged with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The merger has created a synergy that has moved Rutgers from 55th in the nation in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to 22nd in only three years. In primary education, he created a teacher evaluation system to improve transparency and accountability. He then persuaded the Legislature to amend the oldest teacher tenure law in America allowing for the termination of ineffective teachers. In failing school districts, he doubled the number of charter school seats available to students to over 50,000, leading to an increase in the graduation rates in both Newark and Camden.
Christie can be credited with starting a national conversation on the unaffordability of the public-sector worker pension and health benefits, and the resulting fiscal crisis in New Jersey and in so many other states. In response, he held over 125 town hall meetings to present his proposals to the people of his state and spoke in ten other states to address the topic as well. As a result, he convinced the Democratically-led Legislature to pass historic pension and benefit reform which will save New Jersey taxpayers $120 billion over the next 30 years, dedicated the state lottery to the pension system and required public workers to pay for a portion of their health benefit costs. All of these reforms proved to be a model for other states dealing with this ongoing fiscal crisis.
During his time as Governor, Christie became a leader among his fellow Governors and in his party at the national level. He served as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) in 2014 and led the organization to a fundraising record and the election of a record number of Republican Governors. He was elected for seven years to the Executive Committee of the RGA and served as Vice-Chairman in 2012. He was asked by former Governor Mitt Romney to be the keynote speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention and was Chairman of the Trump transition from May-November of 2016, after his own campaign for the Republican nomination for President.
Governor Christie graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. degree in Political Science in 1984 and graduated in 1987 from the Seton Hall University School of Law with a J.D. degree. He is an avid sports fan, cheering for the New York Mets, Knicks, Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys. He and his wife, Mary Pat, were married in 1986. They have four children and reside in Mendham, NJ.