Christie Cold-Shoulders Constituency During Winter Storm Jonas
January 29, 2016
Over the weekend, the mid-Atlantic states were hit by almost three feet of snow. The leaders of the affected states took center stage as they coordinated cleanup efforts. Cooperating to tackle the emergency, the traditional feuds and political posturing, such as that between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, fell by the wayside. Yet across the Hudson, Governor Chris Christie used his bully pulpit to campaign for president, continuing a long pattern of putting his presidential aspirations ahead of New Jersey.
Christie arrived in New Jersey only hours before the storm hit, and only after being shamed into coming back. And despite his late arrival, Christie claimed credit for, according to him, a successful response to the blizzard. He even claimed that his handling of storm shows he can handle ISIS. Yet by Sunday morning he was back in New Hampshire running a victory lap and using the storm to campaign for president. Even in his emergency press conferences during the storm, he used his time to grandstand. Christie’s address was particularly aggravating given that it directly followed Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio’s address. The contrast between the speeches only highlighted how unfocused Christie is on his constituents. His response to the storm is exemplary of the particularly shameless politicking that has characterized Christie’s governorship. It is shocking that he could not see the irony in dismissing his 2-1 negative approval ratings in an interview Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union — right before jetting off to New Hampshire.
Christie justified his inattention to his state by continually downplaying the severity of the storm and the aftermath. As predicted snow totals steadily rose, Christie avoided returning to the state until the last minute. Less than 48 hours after the storm hit, Christie claimed from New Hampshire that there was no major flooding in New Jersey and the roads were clear, even though most of the Mid-Atlantic states were still digging themselves out of the storm. Yet pictures from the shore towns tell a markedly different story. South Jersey State Senator Jeff Van Drew even asked Christie to issue a federal disaster declaration for two shore counties — Cape May and Cumberland — which Christie has yet to do. Meanwhile, inland cleaning operations were not nearly as successful as Christie claimed when he left for New Hampshire. Newark was forced to close schools on Monday and Tuesday due to an incomplete clean up. Roads continued to be a convoluted maze well into Wednesday.
Christie’s response to the blizzard is not unexpected. His habit of putting New Jersey second has been apparent for well over a year. This weekend’s storm is just the most recent and most egregious example.
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Email Shiva Darshan at [email protected]