Morning News Digest: October 31, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Christie on parts of the Jersey Shore: ‘Gone’
Gov. Chris Christie says areas along the state’s coast may never look the same to some New Jersey residents.
The governor held an evening news conference Tuesday after surveying the coast hours earlier, which he described as being completely devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
“I’ve just never thought I’d see what I saw today – ever,” Christie said, explaining that the boardwalk in Belmar he walked on just a few months ago has disappeared.
“It’s gone,” he said. “It’s not there.” (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
Christie tours devastated coast
Gov. Chris Christie is back on the ground after surveying damage from Hurricane Sandy and is expected to brief the media within hours.
The latest update comes after the governor took a four-and-a-half-hour helicopter tour of Jersey’s coast Tuesday. He made stops in Avalon and Belmar, where he was greeted by residents who told him that they had “lost everything,” said Walter Patrickis, of Belmar.
“I was just here walking this place this summer and the fact that most of it is gone is just incredible,” Christie said to Belmar’s mayor, Matt Doherty. (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
In wake of Sandy, Christie doesn’t ‘give a damn’ about presidential politics
The severe devastation from Hurricane Sandy is no place for presidential politics, according to the governor.
Gov. Chris Christie gave a sharp answer to a question regarding the issue that was asked Tuesday morning by the host of a Fox News show. The governor was asked by Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy whether he thought there was any possibility that presidential hopeful Mitt Romney would visit New Jersey to survey the storm damage.
Christie wasted little time in firing back a stern response.
“I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested,” Christie said. “I have got a job to do here in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff.” (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
Obama to visit New Jersey in wake of Sandy devastation
President Obama will travel to New Jersey Wednesday afternoon to join Governor Christie in viewing the damage from Superstorm Sandy, according to a White House press release.
Obama and Christie will be talking with citizens who are recovering from the storm and thanking first responders who put their lives at risk to protect their communities, the press release said.
President Obama declared New Jersey a major disaster area Tuesday, a designation that will allow federal aid to flow to the most devastated parts of the region. The president’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in nine counties, but it did not include Bergen and Passaic. The declaration was signed before midnight, before the Hackensack River surged in Bergen County, but can be amended as the costs of the recovery becomes clearer. (Akin, The Record)
Gov. Christie commends State Police on Sandy rescue efforts
Gov. Chris Christie this evening praised the efforts of State Police troopers and other first responders on the ground across New Jersey who have been so busy working around the clock they’ve had little time to talk about what they’ve done.
Christie said that while the State Police don’t talk much about the good work they do, Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes has made clear he’s “proud of the men and women he commands.”
“The State Police in my experience, now, its three years of being governor, have not been folks who brag on themselves a lot to me,” said Christie, flanked to his right by Fuentes. But the governor added, “There have been some really heroic actions taken in Moonachie and Little Ferry and Atlantic City.” (Baxter, The Star-Ledger)
Chris Christie’s feud with Atlantic City mayor has history
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s extraordinary public shaming of Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford over superstorm Sandy preparations this week shoved into the national spotlight a longstanding feud that has potential implications for Christie’s 2013 reelection and beyond.
To outsiders, Christie’s Sandy slam of Langford on Monday during his nationally televised news conference looked like spur-of-the-moment storm politics, an emotional and blunt outburst from a politician known for them.
Yet Garden State newspapers have been filled with remarkably toxic remarks between Republican Christie and Democrat Langford for years, and some critics charge Christie’s attack was yet another example of his disdain for the state’s minority leaders and their localities. (Friess, POLITICO)
N.J. sets up two hotlines for complaints of storm-related price-gouging
The state has set up a pair of temporary hotlines that consumers can call to report instances of storm-related price-gouging, Governor Christie announced Tuesday afternoon.
State law makes it illegal to impose excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency and for 30 days after the end of a state of emergency. Price increases are deemed excessive if they exceed 10 percent of the price under which the good or service as sold prior to the emergency declaration.
Christie, who made the announcement in a press release, did not say whether his administration had received reports of price-gouging in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall in New Jersey on Monday night. (Lamb, The Record)
New Jersey sorts through wreckage
Superstorm Sandy delivered one of its most severe hits to New Jersey, walloping the state from the shore to the suburbs, causing six deaths and stranding hundreds in a flooded inland town.
The storm caused massive flooding and destroyed homes in Jersey Shore communities, devastated mass transportation and wiped out a section of the Atlantic City boardwalk.
“There are no words to describe what so many New Jerseyans experienced over the last 24 hours and what we will have to contend with over the coming days, weeks and months,” Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday. (Weaver, Haddon and Gold, The Wall Street Journal)
Where early voting has been affected by Hurricane Sandy
As the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states take stock of the damage from Hurricane Sandy, election officials, political professionals, and, most important, voters are also taking stock of how the storm has affected early voting ahead of the Nov. 6 election. Below are snapshots of how the storm has affected early voting based on information from the Atlas Project, an organization that tracks election information for progressive causes, unless otherwise noted. (Staff, National Journal)
Halloween could be postponed by storm damage, recovery effort in New Jersey
The massive amount of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and the ongoing recovery efforts across New Jersey may lead Governor Christie to postpone Halloween until conditions have improved.
Christie, speaking to reporters during a media briefing at the State Police’s main command center in West Trenton, said he won’t allow the holiday to be recognized on schedule in New Jersey if he has any safety concerns.
“I can’t imagine that’s it’s going to be safe for kids to go around for Halloween tomorrow night,” the governor said. “I just can’t imagine that it would be safe in most parts of the state so we’re going to make an assessment of that during the day today.” (Reitmeyer, The Record)
Officials: N.J.’s transit system crippled by floodwaters, debris
From north to south, all NJ Transit trains, buses and light rail systems remained closed late Tuesday, meaning commuters and other transit-dependent North Jerseyans will have to find alternate means to get around.
Amtrak, which owns New York Penn Station and the Northeast Corridor rail lines NJ Transit uses to carry passengers into New York, has also suspended service along the corridor while it inspects tunnels, tracks, equipment and stations.
In North Jersey, Durso said, trees were down all along the Main, Bergen, Pascack Valley and Boonton lines, while trees and wires are down along the Montclair line, he said. (Rouse, The Record)
Sandy-caused power outages may complicate election day
Election officials across the U.S. Northeast say they are determined to minimize disruption to Nov. 6 presidential voting in the region’s hardest-hit areas after super-storm Sandy knocked out power to 8 million customers.
Officials are surveying damage and deciding how to conduct voting in areas without power. Service may not be restored for as long as 10 days to more than 2 million New York customers, mostly on Long Island and in New York City. Another 2.6 million customers in New Jersey and 627,000 in Connecticut were without electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Department. (Rowley and Dudley, Bloomberg)
Officials: Election Day, early voting will weather the storm
Sandy has not had a major impact on early voting and Election Day plans in several presidential battleground states in its path.
Election officials in Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia — three states in which nearly every vote could matter — said Sandy does not seem to have affected things much.
“Everything right now seems to be running smoothly and is on track as planned,” said Matt McClellan, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
North Carolina State Board of Elections executive director Gary Bartlett said, “Right now, we’ve got flooding in our northeast and we have blizzard conditions in our mountains, but we’re going to be ready. We were relatively fortunate as it related to the inclement weather.” (Goode, POLITICO)
Analysis: By doing his job, Obama’s storm response gives him chance to fight for his job
It may look to America like President Barack Obama is off the campaign trail. He’s really not.
By commanding the response to a ferocious October storm a week before the election, Obama is employing a political advantage in the race to be president.
He is the president.
Clearly, Obama’s imperative to act transcends the election. Superstorm Sandy’s wrath is real. At a time of death and danger, any president is expected to lead for the people of every state, battleground or otherwise. (Associated Press)
In wake of superstorm Sandy, Romney faces scrutiny for past comments on disaster relief
There’s nothing like a natural disaster to test the depth of politicians’ preference for small government.
And so Mitt Romney found himself on the hot seat after superstorm Sandy battered the East Coast. Only last year, as Romney hewed to the right while battling for the GOP nomination, he appeared to suggest in a debate that the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be shuttered and its responsibilities left to the states.
“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction,” Romney said at a debate last year. “And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.” (Associated Press)
Ryan budget could hammer storm aid, critics say
Mitt Romney says he wants to give states more power to deal with disasters like Hurricane Sandy. But his running mate’s budget plan would threaten states’ ability to respond to massive storms, some experts say.
Paul Ryan’s House-passed budget would cut nondefense discretionary funding by 22 percent starting in 2014, according to the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which said in an August report that about one-third of that money goes to state aid for a range of needs including disaster response.
“These are very deep cuts to a part of the budget that’s already been cut a lot,” Michael Leachman, the lead author of the report, told POLITICO. “I think that it’s pretty clear that the part of the budget that includes disaster relief and other forms of state and local aid would have a pretty big target on its back.” (Restuccia, POLITICO)
Insurers won’t pick up whole Sandy tab
Sandy is expected to become one of the costliest storms ever. But a substantial share of the tab won’t be picked up by insurers, because standard homeowners’ policies don’t cover flood damage.
Instead, an indebted federal flood-insurance program is expected to pay for billions in property damage, while local, state and federal taxpayers will likely take the lead in financing repairs to subways, roads and other infrastructure.
The government will also foot the bill for the federal emergency financial aid typically extended to homeowners and small businesses lacking adequate insurance, according to insurance-industry analysts, executives and others. (Scism, Zibel and Holm, The Wall Street Journal)
LoBiondo touts successful efforts to address needs of 2nd District
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Frank is perceived by some as a centrist Republican who’s not been afraid to break ranks with his party to address the specific needs of the 2nd Congressional District, which he has served since 1994.
But the five challengers seeking to unseat him this Election Day accuse him of neglecting the concerns of his constituents.
However, with little to no campaign money, no candidate debates and a sprawling district that spans parts of eight diverse counties, LoBiondo’s challengers are having trouble building name recognition and spreading their message. (Nurin, NJ Spotlight)
LoBiondo challenger Shober runs hard in tough districts
The sprawling Second Congressional District is New Jersey’s largest geographically and perhaps its most varied politically.
In its glimmering beach towns, streets are lined with expensive real estate. But some of its inland hamlets exhibit the economic and environmental scars of a long-gone industrial age.
There are places within the district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 2-1, and others that have been Democratic strongholds since the 19th century. There are 9,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, but the two together are outnumbered by unaffiliated voters. (Urgo, The Philadelphoa Inquirer)
Case for bankrolling clean energy in New Jersey gets big boost
New Jersey isn’t the only state ramping up spending for developing cleaner electricity.
In 2011, more state-funded renewable projects—32,734—were installed than in any other single year, according to a , a national nonprofit organization reflecting the use of public funds.
Last year, states invested a total of $3.4 billion in promoting renewable-energy projects, up 18 percent from the prior year and more than double what was spent in public dollars in 2009, the study said. The commitment of public money leveraged an additional $12.5 billion in private investment, according to the report. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Kelly Ayotte and Paul Ryan will play major roles in a Mitt Romney victory
Throughout, this campaign, I have had my doubts as to whether Mitt Romney could defeat Barack Obama. These doubts have been due to the fact that Barack Obama has continuously held a larger base of votes in the Electoral College. That advantage has largely been due to demographic factors that keep certain states in the Democratic column, regardless of the state of the economy.
I have also continuously believed that this election would be decided in Ohio and that the winner of the Buckeye State’s eighteen electoral votes would win the election. Because of the auto bailout and the fact that the Obama campaign has the better get-out-the-vote ground game in the state, I have felt that the President is likely to prevail in Ohio. (Steinberg for PolitickerNJ)
Mitt who? Sandy brings Chris & Barack together
Who could have possibly seen this coming?
Gov. Christie has been one of Mitt Romney’s most significant supporters, fundraisers and surrogates. He gave the keynote speech at Romney’s convention; he has described President Obama as a man lacking the leadership ability to find his way around the Oval Office.
Gov. Christie has been one of Mitt Romney’s most significant supporters, fundraisers and surrogates. He gave the keynote speech at Romney’s convention; he has described President Obama as a man lacking the leadership ability to find his way around the Oval Office. (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Campaigns hit pause button on ad blitzes
Before then-Tropical Storm Sandy morphed into a 900-mile-wide menace, U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos expressed confidence that he could close Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez’s double-digit lead in the polls in the final week of the race.
His strategy was fairly straightforward: a late-campaign marathon, including a 21-county tour and television blitz in New York and Philadelphia markets timed just when Jersey voters began tuning in to the race.
“So we’re out there now, we’ll be out there for the duration,” Kyrillos said last week. (Stile, The Record)
Jersey Democrats think they are in Indiana
While Horton the elephant, heard a Who, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and crew heard a Hoosier elephant.
The state Democratic legislative caucus has sunk to a new low. They have joined in the political lynching of Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock.
Mourdock is running for the U.S. Senate and in a debate last week said he does not support abortions except when the life of the mother is threatened. He does not believe in any exemptions in cases of rape or inces (Doblin, The Record)
Why Sandy poses a major test for Chris Christie (and how he’s passing it so far)
Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey Monday night, where outspoken Gov. Chris Christie (R) faces a potentially tough reelection campaign in 2013. A year in advance, the rough storm and its aftermath could be the biggest test yet of the brusque governor’s management capabilities.
It’s a test Christie is largely passing so far, by adhering to a vital political principle in instances like these: leave politics aside.
Christie’s never been one to pull punches when it comes to President Obama’s record. But when it came to taking stock Tuesday morning of the president’s response to the storm, Christie offered a glowing review. (Sullivan, The Washington Post)
Hurricane Sandy: The political fallout
The widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy is going to have an effect on Election Day. The only question is how far-reaching it’s going to be. While some states escaped with far less damage than they feared, as many as 8.5 million residents across the Northeast were without power Tuesday — and a portion of them faced the prospect of an extended period of time without electricity.
Here are six things to watch in assessing the storm’s political fallout. (Mahtesian, POLITICO)