Christie confronted at his New Jersey polling place

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26:  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attends an event where U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on the opioid crisis in the U.S. October 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump plans to authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to declare a nationwide public health emergency in an effort to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths across the nation.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Story highlights

  • Christie and his record-low approval ratings hover mightily over the contest to replace him.
  • Christie's penchant for confrontation has helped define his tenure as New Jersey's chief executive

Washington (CNN)In his final Election Day as New Jersey's governor, Chris Christie added another on-camera upbraiding to his legacy as a politician with a proclivity for punching back.

New York Times reporter Nick Corasaniti filmed the former Republican presidential candidate speaking to the press after casting his vote. Christie was asked by a passerby why he didn't merge a township and a borough during his eight years in office.
"Well, as governor, I can't. I can't. I don't have the authority to do it," he said with his wife, Mary Pat, smiling behind him.
    "Go in and vote for whoever you want. I never said I was going to merge the two towns," he continued.
    "You want to merge Mendham township and Mendham borough, run for the township committee," said Christie, who resides in the township. "No, I know, 'cause that's too hard. It's easier to sit here and complain."
    "But you know what? That's the joy of public service. ... It's serving folks like you that is really such a unique joy. It really is. You're fabulous," Christie told the woman as she walked away.
    Once the woman left the polling pace, Christie told reporters he voted for Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican, in the governor's race. But no matter who wins the race, he said, it's not a referendum on his term in office.
    "This is not an election about me, no matter what," he added.
    But Christie and his record-low approval ratings hover mightily over the contest to replace him. Guadagno has tried to distance herself from Christie.
    Christie's confrontations have helped define his tenure as New Jersey's chief executive. Over the years, he's been seen getting into heated discussions at a baseball game, on the Jersey shore boardwalk, with teachers and at a news conference. Last July, he called a constituent a "bum" and a "communist" during a guest turn as a sports talk radio host.