- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cruised to re-election Tuesday, giving Republicans a bright spot in an off-year election and demonstrating how the GOP can win in blue states and potentially positioning himself as a counterweight to the tea party in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.

Networks called the race immediate after the polls closed at 8 p.m. — citing exit polls that showed that he steamrolled his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono.

The renewed lease on the governorship gives Mr. Christie more time to watch over the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort, and to push a legislative agenda that could include in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

It also gives him a high-profile launching pad to make the case that he should be the party’s standard bearer in the 2016 presidential race.

Speaking at an election-night party, Mr. Christie said his administration has done what it promised to do four years ago by turning the state’s political culture upside down and getting things done.

“We stand here tonight showing that it is possible to put doing your job first, to put working together first, to fight for what you believe in yet still stand by your principles and get something done for the people that elected you,” he said, before suggesting lawmakers in Washington could learn a thing about leadership from the Garden State.

“I know that if we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey, maybe the folks in Washington, D.C., should tune in their TV’s right now and see how its done,” he said to thunderous applause.

With 60 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Christie had captured 60 percent of the vote, compared to 39 percent for Mrs. Buono, who used her concession speech to thank her volunteers for withstanding the “onslaught of betrayal from our own political party.”

“I took one for the team. The only problem: I realized too late, their was no team,” Mrs. Buono said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus congratulated Mr. Christie on his “impressive re-election victory tonight.”

“During his first term, the governor proved that Republican principles get results — even in a state the pundits like to call a ‘blue state,’” Mr. Priebus said.

“He brought fiscal responsibility to Trenton, and he brought tax relief to families. He put students before special interests, and in everything he stayed true to his word,” Mr. Priebus said.

Heading into Election Day, polls showed that the tough-talking governor would coast to a second term, thanks in large part to the way he handled the response to Hurricane Sandy, which slammed the Atlantic Coast a year ago, killing 38 people in New Jersey and damaging close to 350,000 homes.

Voters applauded the way he teamed up with President Obama in the wake of the storm, and the way in which Mr. Christie put the state before political partisanship, which had come to define Washington and to turn off voters.

While some conservatives outside the state blasted Mr. Christie’s embrace of Mr. Obama, voters inside the state lapped it up and his popularity blasted off into the stratosphere — and stayed there.

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