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ASBURY PARK, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie was re-elected with ease Tuesday, demonstrating the kind of broad, bipartisan appeal that will serve as his opening argument should he seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Christie had 60 percent of the vote to Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono's 39 percent, putting him en route to become the first Republican in a quarter-century to receive more than 50 percent of the New Jersey vote.
This, in a state that President Barack Obama carried a year ago by more than 17 points, his biggest margin in the nation.
"Thank you, New Jersey, for making me the luckiest guy in the world," Christie said in a victory speech late Tuesday in the shore town of Asbury Park.
After a campaign that centered more on his record and personality than his agenda for a second term, he told supporters that he has big plans for education reform and tax cuts, among other issues.
"I did not seek a second term to do small things," he said. "I sought a second term to finish the job. Now watch me do it."
Buono told supporters in her hometown of Metuchen, on the fringes of the New York area, shortly after polls closed that she had called Christie to congratulate him. She noted they had their differences but added, "when it comes down to it, we're just two parents who want to see the best for our children's future."
Christie performed strongly across the political spectrum after aggressively courting constituencies that often shun the GOP: minorities, women and even Democrats, who outnumber Republicans among registered voters by more than 3 to 2.
Interviews with voters as they left polling places found Christie re-elected with broad support among whites, independents, moderates, voters over 40 and those opposing the health care law, among others.
He did well among groups that typically lean Democratic, carrying a majority of women and splitting Hispanics with Buono. And Christie improved on his share of the vote in 2009 among blacks, liberals, Democrats and voters younger than 30 by more than 10 percentage points.