For most of 2015, major news organizations and prominent pundits have insisted that Chris Christie’s “comeback” is going to begin at any moment. There’s been scant evidence that the New Jersey governor is anything but a third-tier 2016 contender, but media chatter about his inevitable resurgence has been constant for months.
As of yesterday, those championing the “comeback” meme have some fresh grist for the mill.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won the coveted endorsement from the New Hampshire Union-Leader, the state’s biggest newspaper and an important voice in the state’s primary.It’s a boost in a critical state for Christie where he is spending a considerable amount of time and resources.
The editorial board for the conservative New Hampshire paper touted Christie’s credibility on matters of national security – an issue the governor generally seems to know very little about – and made no mention of the New Jersey Republican’s damaging scandals, his unpopularity among his own constituents, or his assorted governing failures.
These details notwithstanding, most of the GOP field sought support from the Union-Leader, an influential outlet among Granite State Republicans, and Team Christie is no doubt delighted to pick up the sought after endorsement.
There is, however, a nagging question that the governor might find more discouraging: how have previous Republicans endorsed by the Union-Leader fared over the years?
Longtime readers may recall a post I wrote four years ago at this time, when the newspaper published a front-page editorial endorsing Newt Gingrich’s candidacy. Let’s revisit the Union-Leader’s track record for picking winners:
1976: The paper endorsed Ronald Reagan over Gerald Ford, but Reagan lost the primary.
1980: Reagan won the endorsement and the primary.
1988: The Union-Leader supported Pete du Pont, who didn’t get much of a boost, finishing fourth in New Hampshire primary.
1992: The paper endorsed Pat Buchanan, who finished a competitive second against an incumbent president.
1996: The Union-Leader again backed Buchanan, who this time won the New Hampshire primary.
2000: Steve Forbes won the paper’s endorsement, though he ended up running third in the primary.
2008: The Union-Leader supported John McCain, who won the state’s primary.
2012: The paper backed Gingrich, who finished a woeful fifth in the New Hampshire primary, failing to even break double digits.
With a track record like this, should we assume the weekend’s endorsement will propel Christie into top-tier contention? Probably not. That said, the Union-Leader is an important media voice, especially among conservatives in the first-in-the-nation primary, and it’s not unreasonable to think some New Hampshire voters who were inclined to ignore the scandal-plagued governor might now give Christie another look.