It’s no secret that former Republican Gov. Chris Christie wanted to be U.S. attorney general, only to see President Donald Trump name former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to the post instead.
Now, Chris Christie is in the running for attorney general after all. In Alabama. And he’s a Democrat.
But it's an entirely different Chris Christie.
“I’ve probably had a dozen people tell me that I should change my name,” the Alabamian Christie said. “My response is that I’m not changing who I am. I’ve always been Chris Christie.”
Technically, he’s not Chris Christie. His first name is actually James, which happens to be the middle name of New Jersey’s Chris Christie. But the Alabamian said he’s always been called Chris because of his Scottish heritage — his father was an immigrant from Scotland.
“It’s a Scottish thing to call the first [male] child a nickname based on the last name. Mac is what you’re used to hearing. So I’ve always been called Chris Christie.”
Ironically, New Jersey’s Christie was almost named James.
At a November ceremony to have a street named after him in Morris County, Christie told the crowd his parents’ plan was to name him James Christopher, after his grandfather. But, he said, his uncle, whose wife was pregnant at the same time as Christie's mother, claimed the name first. So Christie’s parents reversed the order of his name to Christopher James.
“They finally went with Christopher James and they never thought about ‘Chris Christie,’” he said at the time.
Alabama’s Christie jokes that he’s “the original Chris Christie,” having been born three years before the former New Jersey governor. He’s long been aware of his counterpart in the north. When New Jersey’s Christie was the state’s U.S. attorney, the Alabamian Christie would occasionally get calls intended for the New Jerseyan.
“The thing is, I’ve actually talked to him on the cellphone before,” Alabama’s Christie said.
Allies of New Jersey's Chris Christie aren’t ready to cede the name.
“I know Chris Christie. Chris Christie is a friend of mine,” said Mike DuHaime, a Republican consultant who worked as Christie’s strategist. "That Chris Christie is no Chris Christie.”
Indeed, the Alabama Christie has already promised a different style, if elected. Asked by a Twitter user if he’d refrain from verbally assaulting fans at a local sports game while holding nachos — a reference to a confrontation Christie had with a baseball fan during a game in Milwaukee — he promised he would.
“I do so solemnly swear,” he said.
Christie, a close friend of Trump's, left office in New Jersey as the most unpopular governor on record. But state Senate President Stephen Sweeney thinks sharing a name with a pro-Trump Republican may not be a bad thing for the Chris Christie who's running in deep-red Alabama.
“That may help him down there,” he told reporters.