MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (AP) — His popularity surging because of his handling of Superstorm Sandy, Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday that he will seek re-election so he has the chance to lead the state through a recovery effort he said will extend past his first term.
"The public needs to know that I'm in this for the long haul, that the person who has helped to lead them through the initial crisis wants to help lead them through the rebuilding and restoration of our state," he said at a news briefing in Middletown, where he had come to thank first responders and volunteers.
"It would be wrong for me to leave now," the 50-year-old Republican governor said. "I don't want to leave now. We have a job to do. That job won't be finished by next year."
The gubernatorial election is a year from now. Christie said he made his decision after talking with his family over the weekend. He said his wife and four children, ages 9 to 19, were unanimous in their decision he should run again.
"I have a job to finish that six weeks ago I never anticipated having," he said.
The governor filed papers with election officials Monday cementing his intention to seek a second term. The step allows Christie to set up a campaign headquarters, hire staff and raise money toward his re-election. A formal announcement is expected in January.
Christie carried the Democratic-leaning state by 86,000 votes in 2009, an upset win over Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine.
Christie, who has become a national figure during his first term, is riding an unprecedented wave of popularity because of how he handled the storm, which he said Friday had caused more than $29 billion in damages in New Jersey. Even Democrats have applauded his hands-on response. He appeared on "Saturday Night Live" in his trademark fleece pullover this month to lampoon his own nationally televised storm briefings.
About the only criticism directed his way since Superstorm Sandy attacked the coast in late October has come from fellow Republicans who have lambasted him for embracing President Barack Obama as the two toured New Jersey's ravaged coastline six days before the presidential election. Some even blame Christie for tipping a close election to the president.
Christie was the first governor to endorse Mitt Romney; he raised $18.2 million for the GOP nominee and crisscrossed the country as an in-demand surrogate for Republican candidates. Some are still questioning his party loyalty, however, as they did after Christie delivered the keynote address at the party's nominating convention in Tampa. Critics saw that August speech as too much about Christie and not enough about Romney.