I live in New York, but I also have some allegiance to New Jersey. My parents grew up there, and even though we moved around when I was kid, they're both back there now. So both of my governors -- the one whose election I had a say in, Andrew Cuomo, and the one who's repping a state I always feel some need to defend, Chris Christie—are media-savvy men who may or may not have presidential ambitions.
Whatever they think about that option in their innermost hearts, both men regularly have their names thrown around as possible presidential contenders. While that's flattering to them, it's not necessarily in the best interest of their constituents, who didn't elect these guys to boost them onto the national stage, but to, you know, govern on a state level.
Christie is still incredibly popular in New Jersey (although not as popular as Andrew Cuomo is in New York). But when the Rutgers-Eagleton poll asked New Jersey voters if they'd support Chris Christie in a presidential election, two-thirds said they would not. Plus, most of the people polled (42 percent) thought Christie's gallivanting around the national stage made "no difference" to New Jersey's image. An additional 21 percent thought it had a negative impact.
I have to give former Gov. Tim Pawlenty a little credit on this count: Facing similar chatter about his potential as a presidential candidate, he said he'd finish out his term in office before making the leap to presidential politics, and he did. I doubt it will help him in the Republican primary. But it does show a certain amount of respect to his constituents that he waited. Or maybe he was just politically savvy enough to know that 2008 would not be his year.