Don't count out Chris Christie

Christie has won twice statewide in a blue state that last voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 1988. He correctly says no rival for the Republican nomination has been elected in a state so inhospitable to Republicans. In New Jersey, 48 percent of registered voters are unaffiliated with either the Democratic (32 percent) or Republican (20 percent) parties. Christie won reelection with 60 percent of the vote, including 57 percent of women, 51 percent of Hispanics and 21 percent of African Americans…

Christie will campaign in Iowa for nine days before the Feb. 1 caucuses. If they yield a cloudy result — say, the top four finishers clustered within four points — New Hampshire will become the scythe that reduces the field. Christie plans to be “the last governor standing” when, after South Carolina at the latest, he expects former governors Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush and current Ohio Gov. John Kasich to join current and former governors Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore on the sidelines.

As chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2014, Christie campaigned frenetically, dispersing more than $100 million as 17 Republican governors were reelected and seven new ones were elected. So far, only four governors have endorsed candidates: Alabama’s Robert Bentley supports Kasich, Arkansas’s Asa Hutchinson supports Huckabee, Maryland’s Larry Hogan and Maine’s Paul LePage support Christie. So 24 Republican governors, many of them indebted to Christie and all of them disposed to admire executives, have political muscles to flex.