Christie lent his powerful voice to that sentiment last week when he condemned as “disgusting” the House Republicans’ decision not to take up a $60 billion Hurricane Sandy recovery bill because tea-party lawmakers considered it wasteful. “That’s why people hate Washington,” Christie said at the time, helping to force House Speaker John Boehner to reconsider.

It was just the latest of Christie’s many breaks with tea-party orthodoxy. Just before the election, his effusive praise of President Obama’s “outstanding” response to Sandy earned him condemnation from Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch.

He unnerved fiscal conservatives by saying that the hurricane recovery would probably require higher taxes, because “there’s no magic money tree.” He came out against the National Rifle Association’s plan to have gun-wielding guards in schools, saying, “You don’t want to make this an armed camp for kids.” …

It’s a lesson that could help the national Republican Party loosen the tea party’s death grip.