HE DRUMBEATS ABOUT A POTENTIAL Chris Christie
run for president are driving speculation that the
governor’s second term will be a short one. But they
are also tapping out a message about the woman sitting in a corner office in the State House, just down the hall
from Christie: She’s up next.
Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, who has been working in Christie’s shadow for the last four years—often seen but
not heard at the governor’s news conferences—is next in line to
lead New Jersey should Christie decide to leave Trenton early
to pursue his national ambitions.
The state’s first-ever lieutenant governor, Guadagno, 54, has
operated outside the glare of publicity that attends her boss. Her
schedule and assignments are directed by the governor’s office.
An unknown entity to most—independent public opinion polls
have found most voters know nothing about her—Guadagno is a
polished politician who can be quick with a joke and is comfortable on a stage, her public persona developed through years as a
federal and state prosecutor and a county sheriff.
As he starts his second term, Christie can be expected to
pile up the frequent-flyer miles as chairman of the Republi-
can Governors’ Association, fanning speculation that he will
launch a campaign for president in 2015.
With every absence from the state, Christie signs a letter
leaving Guadagno in charge. It’s happened countless times.
(The governor’s office didn’t provide an exact number despite
several requests.) When Christie is absent, usually no one notices—except in December 2010, when a severe winter storm
moved into New Jersey and both Christie and Guadagno were
out of town on family vacations, he in Disney World and she on
a long-planned cruise in Mexico. On that occasion, the president of the state Senate became the acting governor, as was the
routine before the office of lieutenant governor was created by
constitutional amendment in 2006.
After decades of debate, it took early resignations by two governors for the Legislature to agree to ask voters to amend the
After four years in Chris
Kim Guadagno is poised
to step into the light
should the governor trade
the State House for a
BY DAVID WALD
Kim Guadagno cheers for
the home team during a 2012
NHL playoff game between
the Devils and the New York
Rangers at the Prudential
Center in Newark.