Christie becomes his party's biggest winner on a night in which the GOP was expected to lose a gubernatorial election in Virginia that featured conservative firebrand Ken Cuccinelli. Christie, in contrast, painted himself as a pragmatic leader who worked with Democrats to get the job done during his four years in office.
It was a picture that largely went unchallenged during an election that was never really in doubt.
The Obama administration declined to deploy its best political weapons against Christie, while Buono struggled to earn the support of her party's most devoted supporters. The Democratic Governors Association spent less than $5,000 on the contest while pouring more than $6 million into the Virginia election.
Christie built a national fundraising network, dramatically outspending Buono on the airwaves and improving his organization beyond New Jersey. The Christie campaign spent $11.5 million on TV and radio ads, compared with Buono's $2.1 million, according to SMG Delta, a Virginia-based firm that tracks political spending.
Buono repeatedly tried to use Christie's presidential ambitions against him, accusing him of putting his interests ahead of New Jersey's.
She supported gay marriage and abortion rights, while Christie opposes both. When it became clear last month that the New Jersey Supreme Court would rule in favor of gay marriage, Christie dropped an appeal, allowing the practice to become legal in the state.
During a debate less than a month ago, Christie admitted he might not serve out his full second term should he launch a White House bid.
"I won't make those decisions until I have to," he said.
Facing a skeptical moderator, he replied in the usual blunt, you-gotta-be-kidding-me manner that has proved appealing to voters of both parties: "I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I can do this job and also deal with my future."