In a news conference, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told the country once and for all he’s not running. The announcement comes as a blow to donors, supporters and fellow pols who had pleaded with him to enter the race in the wake of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s stumbles.

The decision will not endear him to party insiders and donors who fervently believed that this was his moment to run for the White House, and that his unique blend of plain-spoken rhetoric and commitment to systemic reform was just what his party and country requires. But those disappointed or even a little angry about the slow tease routine should remember that no matter how enthusiastic a pol’s supporters may be, they can’t force him to run.

The immediate and overwhelming beneficiary of the decision, of course, is Mitt Romney. A Chrisite candidacy would have imperiled his standing among moderate, business-oriented Republicans and cut into his regional standing in the Northeast. Romney now can continue his machine-like progress toward the early primaries, running essentially a general election race and showing his competitors to be less polished and prepared than he is.

Like characters in a murder mystery, Romney’s rivals have fallen one by one. Tim Pawlenty has vanished. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) impaled herself on her rhetoric. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is in critical condition from self-inflicted wounds. And now Christie goes down without a fight. Romney is the living incarnation of the adage that sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. In Romney’s case, he may be just good enough to win the nomination.