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Tuesday
Jan082013

After Sandy, Chris Christie Says NJ Is 'Model' for How Government Should Work

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that rebuilding New Jersey after superstorm Sandy's devastation had to be his priority and called on Congress to swiftly approve disaster aid, at the same time praising both friends and foes in the state legislature for working together in the aftermath of the storm.

"You have helped define New Jersey as a community, one which -- when faced with adversity -- rolls up its sleeves, gets back to work, and in word and deed shows that New Jersey will never, ever give up," Christie said of his fellow New Jerseyans in his annual state of the state address in Trenton.

"One thing I hope everyone in America now clearly understands -- New Jersey, both Republicans and Democrats, will never stand silent when our citizens are being short-changed," he said.

He said the superstorm that devastated the state was "above politics" and he now looks forward "to what we hope will be quick congressional action on a full, clean Sandy aid bill -- now, next week -- and to enactment by the president."

Christie urged Washington, D.C., to deliver quick financial relief to the state in a speech that was at times reminiscent of the angry dressing down he gave members of his own party, notably House Speaker John Boehner last week, when Boehner decided not to bring a $60 billion Sandy aid bill to the floor, despite assuring northeastern Republicans he would.

"We have waited 72 days, seven times longer than victims of Hurricane Katrina waited," Christie said. "The people of New Jersey are in need and not from their own actions but from an act of God that delivered a natural, human, and financial disaster -- and let me say on behalf of all New Jerseyans we are thankful to the people of America for honoring the tradition of providing relief."

He said it could take "years to repair" some of the devastation in his state and touted his state's bipartisanship, digging the federal government to do the same. He even praised his foes in the state legislature, including Democratic State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who just a day before accused Christie of "pray(ing)" for the storm to hit New Jersey.

"We are working together, not just as a people, in digging out from Sandy and rebuilding our economy," Christie said. "Here in Trenton, in this chamber, we have had our fights. We have stuck to our principles. But we have established a governing model for the nation that shows that, even with heartfelt beliefs, bipartisan compromise is possible. Achievement is the result. And progress for our people is the payoff."

"The folks in Washington, in both parties could learn something from our record here," Christie, who is considered a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said.

Congress approved $9.7 billion last week to help pay for Sandy-related insurance claims, and Boehner promised a second vote on disaster relief would be held on Jan. 15.

Sandy slammed into New Jersey on Oct. 29, killing more than 125 people and causing billions of dollars in damage. In the days after the storm and before the election, Christie stood with President Obama and praised him, irking some Republicans in the process.

Christie singled out specific New Jersey residents in his speech -- who were also in the audience -- for going beyond the call of duty as the storm hit the state, such as Marsha Hedgepeth, an emergency room technician in Toms River who swam and then hitchhiked with a utility worker from Michigan in order to get to her hospital and put in a 12-hour shift.

After the address, state Democrats responded that while they agree with the Republican governor that there is much rebuilding to do, they criticized Christie for solely focusing on storm recovery and glossing over the state's economic problems.

"I believe that as government leaders we have the responsibility to be able to address more than one problem at a time," Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald said. "The governor must stand with us to recognize that after the first three years of his administration, in the policies of his economic recovery, the numbers don't ring true."

In a Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll released Monday, 73 percent of registered voters approved of the job their governor was doing.

In November, Christie officially announced his intention to run for re-election and in the 36-day period afterwards he hauled in more than $2.1 million.

In the survey, Christie also comes out on top against his opponents and potential opponents. Christie bests state senator Barbara Buono, who announced her bid last month, with 64 percent to 21 percent. He tops state senator Richard Codey, who served as the state's interim governor for 14 months after the 2004 resignation of Gov. Jim McGreevey, 59 percent to 26 percent. Up against Sweeney, Christie was picked 65 percent to 19 percent.

Neither Sweeney or Codey have announced campaigns, but have said they are considering bids for governor.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec072012

White House Seeks $60.4 Billion for Sandy Recovery

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration has formally asked Congress for $60.4 billion in additional federal emergency aid for states hit by superstorm Sandy.

That is above the $50 billion figure floated earlier in the week as a possible request, but still below the amount sought by many states still reeling from the devastation.

“Today’s agreement … will enable our states to recover, repair and rebuild better and stronger than before,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a joint statement. Both men visited Washington this week to ask for the funds.

The request was made Friday in a letter from OMB director Jeff Zeints to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. The money, if approved, will be directed toward rebuilding homes and public infrastructure in affected communities.

“Our nation has an obligation to assist those who suffered losses and who lack adequate resources to rebuild their lives. At the same time, we are committed to ensuring Federal resources are used responsibly and that the recovery effort is a shared undertaking,” wrote Zients.

“Private insurers must fulfill their commitment to the region; public assistance must be targeted for public benefit; resources must be directed to those in greatest need; and impacted States and localities must contribute, as appropriate, to the costs of rebuilding,” he said.

Zients wrote that the administration believes Sandy is on track to be the second or third most costly natural disaster in U.S. history, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Read the full letter and breakdown of funds by federal agency.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

NJ Gov. Chris Christie Lauded for Storm Efforts

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has earned high marks for his handling of the unprecedented disaster his state has witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, assuring his constituents with his trademark bluntness and aplomb.

The governor has been praised for appearing in control of the situation, rattling off numbers about customers without power and the status of search and rescue operations, and lauded for his willingness to put aside politics just a week before Election Day.

The storm, which has affected seven states and left more than 30 people dead and millions without power, offers a rare opportunity to test our leaders and compare them side by side.

While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg each project his own brand of command – Cuomo comes off as cool under pressure and Bloomberg as a tough but loving manager – Christie with his extra-large podium and outsize  personality seems to be winning people over by just being his brassy self.

“I’m sure that while the national election is obviously very important, that the people of New Jersey, in this moment, would really be unhappy with me if they thought for a second I was occupying my time thinking about how I was going to get people to vote a week from today,” Christie told reporters Tuesday.

“So, I don’t give a damn about Election Day. It doesn’t matter a lick to me at the moment. I have much bigger fish to fry than that,” he said, before boarding a helicopter to assess the damage along the Jersey shore.

He took that sentiment even further Tuesday morning on Good Morning America, praising President Obama, despite Christie’s active support for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

“I have to say, the administration, the president himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far,” Christie said.

But lest Christie be accused of being too soft, he has done plenty of chops busting too.

“It’s just stupid,” Christie said Monday, chastising both coastal residents who did not heed his warning to evacuate and the mayor of Atlantic City who offered them shelter.

“They are now in harm’s way,” he said. “These decisions were both stupid and selfish.”

The nattering classes from both sides of the aisle are each celebrating Christie via Twitter.

“Maybe it turns out that Christie is the October Surprise,” tweeted liberal New York magazine columnist Frank Rich.

“Kudos to Gov. Christie for putting people first as chief executive,” wrote Liddy Huntsman, daughter of onetime Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman.

And perhaps summing up a lot of people’s feelings, one tweeter wrote: “It’s hard to not like Chris Christie right now.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Could Election Day Be Postponed After Superstorm?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Superstorm Sandy has given rise to suspensions in campaigning by both President Obama and GOP contender Mitt Romney, but could it actually delay Election Day?

In theory, yes, but in all likelihood, no.

The Constitution leaves the "times, places and manner" of holding a federal election up to each state, but says that Congress may at any time make or alter such regulations. Election Day, which is set by Congress for all federal offices, is the Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

To push that back, Congress would have to act, which at this late date seems highly unlikely. States could implement emergency procedures that could postpone Election Day, but that could be challenged by Congress or face federal Equal Protection challenges in the courts.

This is uncharted territory, so experts aren't sure how it would be handled.

"For those states that don't already have an election emergency process in place, any departure from the established election process could easily give rise to court challenges about the legitimacy of the election," said Steven Huefner, professor at Ohio State's Moritz College of Law. "Even states with an emergency plan might find themselves facing litigation over specific ways in which they've implemented their emergency plan."

Huefner believes that most likely the storm-related election problems will be resolved by next Tuesday but that the severity of the storm ought to serve as a warning that "Congress and those States that haven't made contingency plans should do so."

Nevertheless, experts told ABC News that even minor contingency arrangements, like keeping polls open longer in some precincts or moving polling locations, will probably lead to legal challenges and more provisional voting, which can delay election results.

In Pennsylvania, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth said Tuesday morning, "We do not anticipate any postponement happening. The general election date is set by federal law." But he acknowledged that state law allows county boards of elections to move some polling places in cases of emergency. And that Pennsylvania has a provision that has been read to allow court of common pleas judges to suspend voting if there is a "natural disaster or emergency on the date of election."

In Ohio, there is no statewide contingency planning, but each of its 88 county boards have their own emergency procedures, such as providing paper ballots should machines malfunction or plans for the relocation of polling places. Except for a power outage in one county (Erie), there have been no reported problems so far, according to Ohio's secretary of state.

In North Carolina, the executive director of the State Board of Elections has emergency power to hold elections in a district where the originally scheduled election was disrupted by natural disaster, extremely inclement weather or armed conflict.

Under Virginia law, there is no delay or postponement of a presidential election under any circumstances. Currently, nine out of Virginia's 134 early voting locations are closed due to Sandy, but those locations will be given up to eight more hours of operating time once they reopen. Most are in Northern Virginia. Also, Virginia has prioritized power restoration to polling locations, made sure voting equipment is battery-operated and that batteries are charged, and the state may set up contingency polling sites.

Battleground states New Hampshire and Florida don't expect any storm impact.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug242012

Storm Veers West, But RNC Not 'Out of the Woods'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Republican delegates can breathe a slight sigh of relief today as Tropical Storm Isaac, which was originally projected to slam into the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. Tuesday, veers to the west and might now make landfall more than 200 miles away from the convention zone.

The convention's 50,000 expected delegates, journalists, protesters and guests will still need to prepare for heavy rain and winds of up to 50 mph, but will likely be spared the hurricane-force wind, rain and flooding that was originally predicted.

"Not by any stretch of the imagination are they out of the woods with this thing," National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

From Sunday afternoon through Tuesday, Tampa will likely see heavy rain that could flood streets, gusts of tropical-force winds that could close bridges and a possible storm surge that could flood low-lying areas such as beachfront hotels and the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the hub of the convention.

Bryan Koon, the state's emergency management director, said if winds exceed 40 mph, some of the bridges spanning Tampa Bay will likely have to be closed. That would cut 27 state delegations that are booked at hotels across the bay off from the convention center, forcing hundreds of delegates to drive around the bay to make it to the convention. That's if the roads don't flood, Koon said.

"It's not going to be one single thing that we are looking at," Koon said. "We've had a lot of rainfall in the Tampa Bay area in the past few months, so flooding is a potential. If it comes down in large amounts of rain in a short time period, it would make some roads impassable."

Koon said emergency managers also have their eye on a possible storm surge, which could swamp many of the beachfront hotels that pepper the bay area. Twenty-two state delegations are staying in beachfront hotels.

But while the situation on the ground in Tampa will likely be wet and windy, the circumstances in the skies could be far rosier. Koons said he is "not overly concerned" about airports closing or delegates' flights being grounded because of the storm.

He said that if the storm affects the airport, it would "probably be short lived and would just delay flights" not cancel them.

Isaac's track and intensity could change greatly after it passes over Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba this weekend, where the storm will likely be weakened by high mountains. Isaac is expected to pick up strength Sunday and Monday over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters and the eye of the storm is predicted to pass west of Tampa far out in the Gulf.

Mitt Romney, who is expected to be voted in as the official Republican presidential nominee Monday, said he is not expecting to have any trouble braving the storm to accept the nomination.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio