Chris Christie re-elected governor of New Jersey

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Published: Nov 05 2013 08:13:05 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 06 2013 07:31:28 AM EST
Chris Christie acceptance speech
ASBURY PARK, N.J. -

Gov. Chris Christie declared victory in his re-election bid Tuesday, thanking New Jersey's voters for "making me the luckiest guy in the world."

Christie made his victory speech just after 10 p.m. in the shore town of Asbury Park.

Christie became the first Republican on the ballot statewide in New Jersey since George H.W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign to get more than 50 percent of the votes in the state.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Christie had 61 percent of the vote to Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono's 39 percent.

"We don't always agree with each other in New Jersey.  Some folks don't agree with some of the things I do, and certainly don't agree with some of the things I say sometimes, but they know... they know they never have to wonder," Christie said in his acceptance speech. "When they walked into the voting booth today, they didn't say, 'Hey, I wonder, who this guy is and what he stands for and what he's willing to fight for, what he's willing to do when the chips are down.'  You can agree with me or disagree with me, but I will never stop leading the state I love."

Speaking about 40 minutes after the polls closed, Buono told her supporters she had called Christie to congratulate him.

Buono told supporters that she had differences with Christie, but added, "when it comes down to it, we're just two parents who want to see the best for our children's future."

She thanked supporters and tweaked Democratic Party bosses, many of whom did not support her campaign.

Christie carried 94 percent of Republicans, according to exit polls, but he also won nearly two-thirds of independents and three in 10 Democrats in a state where Democrats and independents made up more nearly three-quarters of Tuesday's electorate.

Christie also performed well with groups that normally cast ballots for Democrats. Early exit polls indicated the GOP governor grabbed 56 percent of the female vote and won all age groups other than those 18-29.

Christie also took a fifth of the African-American vote and 45 percent of Latinos, a much better performance than most Republicans in recent elections.

The governor's approval ratings are running high because of his blunt, tell-it-like-it-is manner and his leadership after Superstorm Sandy a year ago.

Christie is seen as a strong contender for president in 2016.