New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday easily won a second term, positioning him as a top-tier 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
Christie easily beat Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono, NBC News projected as soon as polls closed. Christie's big win may provide a springboard for his national ambitions. A large margin of victory by a Republican in a blue state could spur the national GOP, frustrated by two resounding defeats in presidential elections, to take a hard look at what the more moderate Christie has to offer in a national race.
New Jersey's governorship highlights how a pragmatic Republican advocating for an inclusive GOP can dominate in Democratic territory. New Jersey has voted for Democratic presidential candidate from 1992 onward. And a Republican has not been elected to the Senate from New Jersey since 1972.
Christie becomes the first Republican governor in New Jersey to win with more than 50 percent of the vote since Tom Kean in 1985.
In a number of polls and surveys, Christie remains among the front-runners for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Christie, 51, was already popular when Superstorm Sandy slammed into the coast a year ago, damaging 360,000 homes and businesses, plunging 5.5 million people into darkness and disrupting gasoline supplies for days. His popularity skyrocketed as he donned a blue fleece pullover and led the state through its worst natural disaster, whether he was embracing President Barack Obama during a visit to the battered coast or consoling a tearful 9-year-old who had lost her house.
Christie underwent weight-loss surgery in February and has been shedding pounds steadily since, addressing a health issue that could affect his political plans in the future. He was disqualified as a 2012 vice presidential candidate after refusing to answer questions about his health and other matters, according to a new book on last year's presidential campaign.
Christie has refused to rule out a presidential run, which may mean he could resign before his second term ended.Politix, and via AP.