How Christie lost his way: He cared too much about Democratic endorsements

Almost simultaneously, he began attacking conservative elements of his own party, knowing they polled particularly poorly in New Jersey. He enjoyed taking shots at tea-party Republicans in Congress who were concerned about the level of federal spending appropriated for storm relief. He appointed an interim senator who didn’t want to run to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat, allowing Democrat Cory Booker to win election without serious opposition. Before the storm, he irked Romney allies with a self-indulgent convention keynote address with sparse mentions of his party’s presidential nominee.

There’s nothing unusual about moving to the middle as reelection approaches—that’s common for politicians in both parties. What’s remarkable about Christie, though, is that the scandal now threatening his political future was borne of his obsession with winning Democratic support. Christie was already coasting to a second term when his staff pressured Democratic mayors for endorsements that were needed only to run up the score and build his bipartisan brand.

“He realizes he’s popular because he’s the Republican who hates the rest of the Republican Party and loves the media crack off of that,” said Republican media strategist Rick Wilson, a Christie critic. “Christie could have acknowledged the president’s help during Sandy without going out of his way to make it politically painful for Mitt Romney. There’s something to be said for wearing the team jersey and sticking up for the team.”