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Making Something of a Big Nothing

3:19 PM, Dec 28, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Republican governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is on vacation -- he's with his family in Disney World. And, it turns out, his lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, is also on vacation, somewhere outside of New Jersey. So who's in charge of New Jersey? Senate president Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat. 

One might think that, with the popular Republican governor out of town and with the reins handed to the Senate president, the Democrats might take the opportunity to show New Jerseyans that they can govern well. Instead, some Democrats are complaining that Christie abandoned them when they needed him most -- to clean up a major snowstorm that hit the Northeast:

"We clearly made a mistake if we created the office lieutenant governor and wasted money if the lieutenant governor is not going to be here when the governor is out of state," said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union). "It's being handled very well by Sen. Sweeney, but you have to really question the purpose of the office."


Lesniak, who is also in Florida, said that although the arrangement may be for less than a week, either Christie or Guadagno should have been on hand to deal with the emergency.

"Thirty-one inches of snow. Hundreds of serious incidents, roads closed down, states of emergency. This is not an insignificant incident. This is serious," he said. "I think it points to a real revaluation of at least the way this office is being handled in the future."

It's the week between Christmas and New Year's -- it's vacation time. Just ask Lesniak, who is currently in Florida himself. Or the president, who's in Hawaii.

It's not clear what one expects Christie to be doing. New Jersey is a state that is used to a bit of snow. It has the apparatus to clean up the mess, without the governor himself grabbing a shovel and hitting the streets.

As Christie's spokesman, Maria Comella, wrote to Ben Smith of Politico:

Snow in the northeast happens often, which is why the response was handled expeditiously between the acting governor, secretary of transportation, state police and the governor's staff with all the appropriate and necessary coordination. And like every other day, the governor was and continues to be in regular contact with his staff and cabinet officers.

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