Christopher “Chris” Christie was born in Newark, New Jersey on September 6, 1962. His family lived in Newark until the 1967 Newark riots, after which they moved to Livingston, New Jersey. Christie was president of his class at Livingston High School. It was during high school that Christie first met state legislator Tom Kean, the man who would become his role model. Tom Kean came to speak to Christie’s high school class. After listening to Kean speak Christie became very interested in the politician and volunteered for his 1977 gubernatorial campaign.
After graduating from Livingston High School in 1980 Christie attended the University of Delaware. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in political science in 1984 and obtained his J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1987. After graduating Christie joined New Jersey law firm Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci, and by 1993 he was named a partner in the firm.
In 1986 Christie married fellow University of Delaware student Mary Pat Foster. Following their marriage, the couple lived in an apartment in Summit, New Jersey. Mary Pat has a career in investment banking and works on Wall Street. The couple has four children, two boys, and two girls. Today the family resides in Mendham Township, New Jersey.
In 1995 Christie began his political carrier after being elected to the Board of Chosen Freeholders for Morris County, New Jersey. Christie had defeated the incumbent freeholders in the primary. During the campaign, Christie had made an incorrect statement that the incumbents were under “investigation” for violating local laws, when in fact, there was an “inquiry” but not a formal “investigation. ” The incumbents responded by filing a defamation lawsuit against Christie for the statement. The lawsuit was settled out of court, and Christie apologized for the “unintentional” error.
During his time as freeholder Christie had yet another defamation suit filed against him, this time by an architect who Christie had pushed to dismiss. The lawsuit was dropped without any explanation from the architect.
After Christie was defeated in a run for a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly, he announced a bid for re-nomination to the Board of Chosen Freeholders. Christie was defeated by John J. Murphy in the primary. Following the election, Christie filed a lawsuit against Murphy, who had incorrectly stated that Christie had the county pay his legal bill in the architect’s lawsuit. This lawsuit was settled out of court and an apology was issued. With his time in Morris County coming to an end, Christie focused his time lobbying in Trenton with his law firm.
In the 2000 presidential election, Christie served as George W. Bush’s campaign lawyer and was also a top fundraiser, raising over $350,000 for the Bush campaign. A year after taking office President George W. Bush appointed Christie United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. During his time as United States Attorney Christie made fighting public corruption a high priority, and succeed in over 130 convictions or guilty pleas. Christie severed as US Attorney until 2008.
In 2009 Christie announced his candidacy for Governor of New Jersey. With former governor Thomas Kean helping his campaign, and Kimberly Guadagno on his ticket as lieutenant governor, Christie defeated incumbent Governor Jon Corzine and took office in 2010. Instead of moving his family into the governor’s mansion, Christie chose to keep his family in their private home.
During his time as Governor of New Jersey Christie’s work focused on issues such as balancing the budget deficit, state pension reform, and tenure reform for public school teachers.
In 2012 Hurricane Sandy hit the New Jersey and caused unprecedented damage to areas along the coast including the Hudson Waterfront and the Jersey Shore. Following the storm, Christie toured storm-damaged areas along with President Barack Obama.
It was speculated that Christie would enter the 2012 presidential election, but he stayed out of the race, stating “Now is not my time.” In 2013 Christie won re-election, defeating Barbara Buono by a large margin. Also in 2013, Christie was elected Chairman of the Republican Governor Association. Having concerns about his weight and its health implications Christie underwent lap-band surgery during the year as well.
Later in 2013, the Christie administration found itself in controversy over toll lane closures at the Fort Lee entrance to the George Washington Bridge. This scandal became known as “Bridgegate.” The lane closures, ordered by a senior Christie aide and a Christie administration appointee, resulted in massive rush hour traffic for 5 days. Theories about the motive behind these lane closures focus on political retribution against Mark Sokolich, mayor of Fort Lee. Sokolich had not supported Christie in the 2013 election.
As a result of the lane closures, a number of Christie administration aides and appointees resigned or were fired. Christie insisted that he had no prior knowledge of the lane closures and that he was shocked when he learned that the closures were ordered by his aides. When discussing the actions of his former aides, Christie stated, “sometimes, people do inexplicably stupid things.” The investigation that mounted on account of the lane closures has yet to find any evidence that Christie directed, or had any part in, the lane closures.
New Jersey’s economy relies partly on its seaside gambling haven Atlantic City, as well as its horse-racing tracks. With Atlantic City and the racing tracks struggling financially, casinos closing their doors, and thousands losing their jobs, New Jersey needed a way to bring them back to life.
In 2013 Christie signed a bill legalizing online gambling in the state of New Jersey, making New Jersey the third state to legalize online betting. “This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly,” Christie said. “But with the proper regulatory framework and safeguards that I insisted on including in the bill, I am confident that we are offering a responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole.”
The Christie administration also began a push to allow sports betting at New Jersey casinos and racetracks. “I am a strong proponent of legalizing sports wagering in New Jersey,” Christie said. In 2011 New Jersey residents voted to allow sports betting in their state, and in 2012 Christie signed a bill authorizing sports betting.
Major professional sports leagues such as the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA fought back, arguing that it violates a 1992 federal ban on sports betting. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) outlawed sports betting nationwide except in four states, including Nevada.
Four years into the battle, including a decision made by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the courts have continuously sided with the sports leagues, and sports betting is still deemed illegal in the State of New Jersey.
However, in October 2015 the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals grated Christie’s request to re-hear the case. Although the case will not be held until February 2016, the outcome of the case could prove bright for the Christie administration and legalized sports betting advocates across the state.
Also in 2015, Christie announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election. Up against strong competition including republican nominees Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Jeb Bush, it doesn’t look very promising that Christie will find himself on the Republican ticket in November’s elections.