Will he? Won’t he? He will! He won’t! Finally, it’s official: He won’t.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday — again — that he will not run for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2012.

You’d hardly think this was big news, seeing as how he’s made the same announcement several times in the past. To be fair, he sounded like he meant it this time.

“Now is not my time,” Christie said.

Not his time to run for president, maybe. But it was definitely his time to talk. And talk. And talk.

It took him only five words to justify his non-candidacy, but then he held court for 50 minutes in a televised press conference that at times seemed like it might never end. Not to suggest that Christie is a camera hog, but he did look like he was prepared to entertain the media assemblage at New Jersey’s State House in Trenton for the rest of the afternoon, or maybe the rest of the week.

The overwhelming grass-is-greener favorite of Republicans not satisfied with the Grand Old Party’s declared field of presidential hopefuls, Christie said he had reconsidered his earlier pronouncements that he would not run after being approached by a number of influential Republicans — “serious” people, he called them — but decided in the end he wanted to fulfill his commitment to the people of New Jersey.

Serving as governor of the Garden State “was always my passion,” Christie said. “So, New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me.”

Christie’s news-conference performance demonstrated in part why so many Republicans were drawn to him and hoped he would run for president. He was relaxed, spontaneous, funny and straightforward.

Most politicians bristle at tough questions, but Christie seemed to enjoy the give-and-take with the media — which might be one of the reasons the session lasted so long: He was having too much fun to leave.

But leave he did — both the news conference and the presidential race that he had seemed to be a part of despite his repeated refusals to become a candidate. And now that he has said “no” one more time, actual candidates can get back to the business of pursuing the nomination.

Which candidate or candidates will benefit? Maybe all of them. At least now, everyone might stop comparing them to the guy who wasn’t running.