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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

Chris Christie says he’ll seek a 2d term as N.J. governor

Chris Christie with his wife, Mary Pat Christie, and first responders at a news conference at a fire house Monday.

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Chris Christie with his wife, Mary Pat Christie, and first responders at a news conference at a fire house Monday.

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. — His popularity surging because of his handling of the Hurricane Sandy crisis, Governor Chris Christie said Monday he will seek a second term so he can continue leading the state through an expected long recovery effort.

‘‘The people need to know I’m in this for the long haul,’’ he said at a news briefing in Middletown, where he had come to thank first responders and volunteers.

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With New Jersey just starting on a long road to rebuilding from the worst natural disaster in state history, the 50-year-old Republican governor said: ‘‘It would be wrong for me to leave now.’’

‘‘I have a job to finish that six weeks ago I never anticipated having,’’ Christie said.

The gubernatorial election is a year from now. Christie said he made his decision after talking with his family over the weekend.

The governor filed papers with election officials Monday cementing his intention to seek a second term. The step allows Christie to set up a campaign headquarters, hire staff, and raise money.

Christie carried the Democratic-leaning state by 86,000 votes in 2009, an upset win over Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine.

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Christie, who has become a national figure during his first term, is riding high favorability ratings because of how he handled the storm. Even Democrats have applauded his hands-on response. He appeared on ‘‘Saturday Night Live’’ in his trademark fleece pullover this month to lampoon his own nationally televised storm briefings.

About the only criticism directed his way since Sandy hit the coast in late October has come from fellow Republicans who have lambasted him for embracing President Obama as the two toured New Jersey’s ravaged coastline six days before the presidential election. Some even blame Christie for tipping a close election to the president.

Christie was the first governor to endorse Mitt Romney; he raised $18.2 million for the GOP nominee and crisscrossed the country as an in-demand surrogate for Republican candidates. Some are still questioning his party loyalty, however, as they did after Christie delivered the keynote address at the party’s nominating convention in Tampa. Critics saw that August speech as too much about Christie and not enough about Romney.

Christie was courted by some Republican bigwigs to enter the presidential contest early on, but he spurned their overtures and later ruled himself out as vice presidential material as well. Buzz over a Christie 2016 run has become muted since the governor boarded Marine One with Obama.

Rice becomes front-runner for secretary of state

WASHINGTON — With congressional opposition softening, UN Ambassador Susan Rice could find her name in contention as early as this week to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.

As President Obama nears a decision on who should be the country’s next top diplomat, Rice has emerged as the clear front-runner on a short list of candidates that many believe has been narrowed to just her and Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, despite lingering questions over her comments about the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a US consulate in Libya.

According to congressional aides and administration officials, Rice will be making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week for closed door meetings with key lawmakers whose support she will need to be confirmed. Those appearances follow her first in-depth explanation of her Benghazi remarks, which Republicans seized on as evidence of the administration’s mishandling of the attack that took the lives of the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

A senior Senate aide said the administration was trying to measure the strength of the Republican opposition to a Rice nomination, sounding out the more moderate members of the Foreign Relations Committee such as Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, who is in line to become the panel’s top Republican next year, and Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia.

Hunting bill stalls in Senate when Republicans block it

WASHINGTON — A wide-ranging bill to give hunters and fishermen more access to public lands stalled in the Senate on Monday night after Republicans said it spends too much money.

Republicans supported opening lands for outdoorsmen and many other provisions in the bill sponsored by Democratic Senator Jon Tester, but GOP senators blocked the legislation on a mostly party-line vote after Senate Budget chairman Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, objected to spending on conservation programs included in the bill.

The sportsmen’s bill would increase land access and allow hunters to bring home as trophies 41 polar bears killed in Canada before the government started protecting polar bears as a threatened species. The legislation would also exclude ammunition and tackle from federal environmental laws that regulate lead, boost fish populations, and protect animal habitat.

Some environmental groups and their Democratic supporters in the Senate had objected to allowing the polar bear imports and exclusions from lead standards.

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