Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno who has already faced criticism from some female lawmakers for her lack of support on their push for Planned Parenthood funding, touched a nerve among some senators this week when she called their job “easy” during a press conference announcing work on the Bayonne Bridge.
In her comments about the work done by former state senator and current Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, Guadagno praised Baroni for giving up his “very wonderful, easy job as a senator” to lead the Port Authority in the right direction.
In emails that circulated after her comments, senators grumbled among themselves that Guadagno’s comments were uncalled for.
“I guess the Lt. Governor thinks us Senators have no show jobs in her quote to Politicker this week,” said one Senator in an email to colleagues that included a story about the event posted on PolitickerNJ.
Another questioned Guadagno’s intelligence for making the comment while others called her position “irrelevant.”
“Why bother? According to the Lt Gov we have cushy jobs, unlike her’s which is irrelevant,” Sen. Ray Lesniak wrote in response to an email to senators from the governor’s legislative liaison touting the positive press on the event.
Another senator in an email to colleagues took aim at the praise for Baroni, questioning the altruism of his move to the Port Authority.
Reached Thursday, Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood Ridge) said while he didn’t take major offense to the comment, he believes it’s indicative of a lack of experience in dealing with the legislature and a lack of respect for the job lawmakers do.
“It’s a constant balancing act between family, your constituents and your own personal employment for those of us who need to work for a living and provide for our families,” said Sarlo, who has two young children. “For those of us who have young children it is a very difficult job and these are very difficult times to govern.”
The string of emails and the anger directed at Guadagno is the latest evidence of the fissure that has developed between Democratic lawmakers and the front office as Gov. Chris Christie continues to dominate headlines as he bulls his way through the legislature.
The press conference announcing the raising of the bridge followed a day of turmoil in the senate as Democrats warred internally over whether to give subpoena power to the committee investigating the administration’s Race to the Top blunder. Frustrations with the administration boiled over as State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) criticized Christie for his lack of transparency.
A spokesman for Guadagno did not immediately reply to a request for comment on her remarks, but at least one Republican insider said the Lt. Gov. in no way meant to impugn the job done by the legislature. Instead, she was complimenting Baroni for the yeoman’s effort he has put in on the Bayonne project and others.