A Democratic state senator in New Jersey has accused the state's popular governor, Republican Chris Christie, of praying for a major catastrophe and getting lucky when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Garden State in October 2012.
Why would Christie do that? Political expediency.
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So suggested the state senate president, Stephen Sweeney. The lawmaker, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Matt Katz, suggested Christie is hoping the state's economy benefits from the new jobs and federal money flowing into the state to clean up for the storm, which killed some 120 people and caused about $37 million in damage.
Said Sweeney: "... His job package is a hurricane. I guess he prayed a lot and got lucky a storm came."
The lawmaker quickly backpedaled, saying: "I shouldn't say that ... I apologize for saying it."
Christie has won accolades for his job responding to the storm. A recent poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University found 77 percent of New Jersey voters approved of the job Christie is doing as governor.
Christie, in a written statement delivered by a spokesman, expressed shock at Sweeney's remarks.
"It was shocking to hear Senator Sweeney reduce Hurricane Sandy and its devastation to a heartless partisan attack," said Christie. "Ask the thousands of New Jerseyans whose homes or businesses were destroyed or damaged if they view Hurricane Sandy as a partisan political issue, or if this is what they want to hear from their leaders at this time of recovery as we fight for disaster aid in Washington."
"No one 'prayed' for what New Jersey has endured. This is politics at its worst and Senator Sweeney's next press release should be to all residents of New Jersey saying he is ashamed of what he said today."
Sweeney did anything but express shame. He instead doubled down, according to Katz's blog, Christie Chronicles.
"It's unfortunate that the governor has found time to exploit my misstatement, which I apologized for immediately," read a statement from Sweeney. "The truth of the matter is the chief politicizer of Sandy has been none other than Chris Christie. There is no better example of this than his appearance on Saturday Night Live. I stand with every member of the Legislature and elected official in this state to help victims of Sandy to recover to a better place than before. But I will not stand by and allow this governor to turn a blind eye to the problems he has created or ignored during his three years in office.
"The fact of the matter is that the governor is using the storm to paper over his failure to lead on issues like job creation, economic growth, women's issues, healthcare and housing. He has already said that the storm 'erased the blackboard,' meaning he is going to use it as an excuse to ignore every other issue in New Jersey. The hundreds of thousands of people out of work because this governor has failed to act don't think the storm 'erased the blackboard.' The governor does not get to erase the blackboard. This is not his etch-a-sketch moment."
[Photo of New Jersey state Sen. Stephen Sweeney/New Jersey Legislature]