- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2015

He was once intensely popular, and his signature style wooed the media and voters, both in and out of his home state. Those who watch him closely think New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is about to lose his mojo.

“It’s been fascinating to see the Christie strategy unfold over the past two years. It’s been a bit like watching a ping pong match. After he won re-election in a blue state by a 22 point margin with majorities of women and Latinos supporting him, he positioned himself as the only candidate who could rescue the Republican Party,” says Patrick Murray, director of New Jersey’s Monmouth University Polling Institute. He has tracked Mr. Christie’s numbers for quite some time.

“In this scenario, he wouldn’t need to worry about the base. Bridgegate changed all that. He started to make overtures to the base, but still hoped to get back in the party leadership’s good graces with a strong showing as the Republican Governor’s Association chair, only to find that his efforts weren’t rewarded with commitments,” Mr. Murray continues.

Mr. Christie heads to the conservative Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday to join 23 other high-profile Republicans who also have their eye on 2016 - either as a candidate or power player.

“Last week’s State of the State address was Christie’s last-ditch effort to re-capture his pre-Bridgegate mystique. But he’s also hedging his bets by making an appeal to the base in Iowa. This strategy is starting to look a bit schizophrenic. Perhaps this this is why he has the highest negative ratings of any potential contender in the GOP field I have polled,” Mr. Murray says.

The governor is deft at functioning during crisis, however. Mr. Christie continues to run his state with much authority, and on projects that display his potential presidential prowess. This week, he appointed an emergency management team to rescue the failing finances and resort status of Atlantic City. And next month, Mr. Christie journeys to Britain on a serious trade mission - marking his third trip abroad in the last year.

“When you have a leader that takes action, that’s what people want. They want action. And he gave them action. There’s no more pussyfooting around. This is what we’re going to do. And we’re going to bring in people who understand what to do,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson told New Jersey Online, a news site.

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