By Blenda Copeland
Don’t confuse him with the New Jersey politician with the same name: this man is Alabama “Chris” – “Chris” Christie of Birmingham, who’s running for Alabama Attorney General (AG).
Although he goes by the nickname “Chris Christie,” the man running in the Democratic June primary in Alabama was born with the legal name James Sturgeon Christie Jr. He’s actually three years older than Chris Christie of New Jersey, leading to a trending joke that “Alabama Chris” is actually the original “Chris” Christie.
Alabama Chris stopped for a visit Jan. 26 in Phenix City as he began his campaign trail throughout the state.
He met with Mayor Eddie Lowe, then was slated to speak at a meeting of local Democrats at Giovanna’s restaurant.
In an interview at the mayor’s office, Christie said he qualified earlier this month to run for office.
A current elder of Homewood Presbyterian Church, he teaches Bible study and has taught Sunday School. He served two years volunteering in the Peace Corps with his wife Donna in Cameroon, Africa. While there, he taught at the University of Yaoundé School of Law.
After the Peace Corps, Christie returned to Birmingham where he clerked for a federal judge for a year. He also served as a trial lawyer for 30 years for a 500-plus national law firm with multiple offices across the U.S., Bradley Arant. During that time, he gained experience working mainly with pension plans and health care providers (Retirement Systems of Alabama was a longtime client). He also served as chair for 20 years on the firm’s pro bono committee and was appointed by federal judges to represent federal prisoners. He left his job at Bradley Arant Jan. 1 to prepare to campaign for office.
Additionally, Christie has served as a Big Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer program that pairs adult mentors with at-risk youth.
Regarding his thoughts on the state’s pressing issues, Christie said the most important issue to him is curbing government corruption. Other matters he’s tuned into include, among others, consumer protection of seniors from scams; contributing to public safety and helping with the state’s prison problems.
“Prisons in Alabama are horrible,” he said, pointing to correctional officers who are overwhelmed with paperwork to the point that important infractions aren’t being properly documented as they occur, which is leading to other consequences.
“The most dangerous prisoners are released,” he said, in relation to the fact that the appropriate paperwork isn’t keeping up with them.
Regarding the state’s opioid problem, he agrees that it’s such a specialized issue that special counsel should be used to handle that matter, as it is even now being done.
Christie received his Master’s and law degrees from Duke and his B.A. degree from Rhodes College.
Married for 33 years to his wife Donna, they have four children. Christie is listed in Best Lawyers in America® (2005-2017) and also in Super Lawyers®, and is a legal author and speaker. Community involvements also include serving on the American Diabetes Board, as president of the Legal Aid Society, and volunteering at Big Oak Ranch and serving as a youth sports coach.
Alabama’s primary election is June 5.