Washington, DC – Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a vocal Republican critic of former President Donald Trump, has joined a crowded field of candidates seeking the United States presidency in 2024.
Christie filed paperwork with US election authorities on Tuesday, formalising his candidacy, and is expected to launch his campaign at an event in New Hampshire later in the day.
Often portrayed as a pragmatic conservative who governed a Democratic-leaning state between 2010 and 2018, Christie first ran for president in 2016 but dropped out early after a faltering campaign. Recent public opinion polls show him attracting only 1-2 percent of primary voters, making his latest bid a long shot as well.
The former governor has been an outspoken critic of Trump, who is also seeking the White House in 2024.
But he was once a close ally of the former president and endorsed Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries after ending his own bid for the presidency that year.
Christie turned against Trump after the former president tried to overturn the 2020 election results. Trump’s oft-repeated claims of a “rigged” election helped spur an attack on the US Capitol, where his supporters tried to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
“We keep losing and losing and losing,” Christie said of Republicans last year after the party’s underwhelming performance in the midterm elections.
“And the fact of the matter is, the reason we’re losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everybody else.”
Christie stepped up his attacks on Trump as he prepared to enter the 2024 race, going so far as to call him Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “puppet”.
He has also criticised fellow Republican candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis along with Trump over their scepticism of US support for Ukraine as it faces a full-scale Russian invasion.
Christie rose to prominence as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey, overseeing several high-profile cases. He was later elected governor in 2009 and easily won re-election four years later.
But his presidential aspirations and political standing took a hit the following year. Early in 2014, text messages became public that suggested Christie’s allies had closed lanes on a busy bridge to New York City to create traffic jams as punishment for a New Jersey mayor who refused to endorse the then-governor.
Christie insisted he had no knowledge of the scheme. Two officials linked to the governor would eventually be sentenced to prison over the scandal, which came to be known as “Bridgegate”.
Now he is staging a political comeback with Trump in his crosshairs.
The race for the Republican nomination is still largely seen as a two-horse race between the former president and DeSantis. Still, with the first primaries months away and Trump facing legal trouble – including criminal charges in New York – outside candidates like Christie will be hoping to gain popularity heading into 2024.
Other candidates in the Republican race include former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott, ex-US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
The winner of the Republican nomination will likely face Biden, who is seeking re-election, in the general elections in November 2024.
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