As Mayor Bloomberg departs, New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro will turn his attention to the other side of the Hudson, to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Barbaro will report on Christie with an eye toward his anticipated run for the Republican nomination in 2016. The move follows The Times having already assigned a reporter to cover presumed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Clintonworld.
The Huffington Post has confirmed the news, which was first reported Friday morning by Capital New York.
Carolyn Ryan, the Times' new Washington bureau chief, has shaken up the paper's political coverage with the hiring of Politico's Jonathan Martin and The Washington Post's Jason Horowitz, and the assignment of a Clinton beat reporter several years in advance of the 2016 election.
In August, Ryan defended the Clinton beat to public editor Margaret Sullivan. Ryan said that Clinton is "is the closest thing we have to an incumbent, when we look at 2016" and suggested the Times can develop deep sources in the period before the former Secretary of State may formally announce a run for president.
It can be expected that Barbaro will dig into some of the less-covered aspects of Christie's political life. Ryan is known to push her reporters to break from conventional wisdom in covering major political figures, evident in her having had Barbaro report on Bloomberg's life in Bermuda and the nutrition-obsessed mayor's love of salt.
The Times will continue covering other presumed 2016 candidates under the paper's normal beat structure, with Congressional reporters tasked to Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.
Update 12:35 p.m.: Here's the memo from Washington bureau chief Carolyn Ryan and metro editor Wendell Jamieson
After a dazzling year in which he captured the ups, downs, and all around excitement of the mayor's race, the leftward turn of the city's electorate and the ending of the Age of Bloomberg, Michael Barbaro will turn his attention to another great political story: Chris Christie. Christie has emerged as a powerful and intriguing figure on the Republican stage, and his influence and impact will only grow in 2014, as he takes his message and his political operation national, as head of the Republican Governors Association and a potential candidate for president. Michael will build on the stellar work of Kate Zernike, our virtuoso New Jersey correspondent, who has reported aggressively and written revealingly of Christie's post-Sandy management, his opposition to same sex marriage, his fiscal stewardship and his reputation for hardball politics. Michael's new assignment will allow Kate to dive into more of the issues affecting New Jersey, and the stories unfolding there, from Camden to the Pine Barrens.
Carolyn and Wendell