Gov. Christie on defense as NJ hosts Super Bowl

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie was born and raised in New Jersey, but his football allegiance is to the Dallas Cowboys. He played catcher on his high school baseball team and has been a lifelong Mets fan, though his friends and foes alike probably would agree he governs like a linebacker.

In case you missed the highlights of his exploits on the political playing field, here’s how the tough-talking Republican governor, caught up in the first scandal of his administration, got to where he is today as New Jersey finds itself in the spotlight as host of Sunday’s Super Bowl.

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FIGHTING CORRUPTION

Christie’s first attempt at elected office didn’t go well. He was a one-term county officeholder before being voted out of office. But he found a different and more noticeable way to burst onto the state political scene: He became a prolific fundraiser for George W. Bush in 2000.

Once elected president, Bush rewarded Christie by making him his surprise pick to be U.S. attorney for New Jersey, the state’s top federal law enforcement official, starting in 2002.

The former corporate lawyer quickly made a name for himself as a corruption-buster, winning convictions of more than 130 public officials over seven years. He reveled in talking about putting away politicians on the take, even for seemingly minor offenses.

“The longer we vote them in,” he said in a 2008 speech, “the more bulletproof they feel, and the more entitled they feel to become corrupt.”

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OVERCOMING THE ODDS

There was speculation Christie would run for governor in 2005, but he decided to keep his job as U.S. attorney. By the time the 2009 gubernatorial election rolled around, however, the state’s Republican powerbrokers were lined up behind him.

Still, Christie was the underdog to Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat who spent tens of millions of his own money on his campaigns in a state where Democrats enjoy home-field advantage.

Christie hammered away at discontent with Corzine, who had raised taxes.

He was the first Republican elected statewide in New Jersey in 12 years and came into office pledging “to pick Trenton up and turn it upside down.”

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