TRENTON – A hurricane and a nor’easter served as bookends for an election day in New Jersey that had its share of drama.
There was the problem of approximately half a million storm-displaced voters being given to the end of the week to vote by email or fax, a decision made by the Executive branch of state government that one senator said should have involved the Legislative branch as well.
There was the matter of a presidential contest Tuesday night that looked neck and neck early on in terms of electoral votes but then fell rather quickly into the incumbent’s column.
There was the sniping from the Romney camp that Gov. Chris Christie should have stopped governing a storm-wracked state to lend more of a hand to the challenger.
First things first.
The state continued to recover from the most devastating storm to hit it.
While thousands and thousands remained without electricity due to Sandy, they braced for a nor’easter that brought more problems: new power outages, more closed roads, increased infrastructure damage.
A presidential election was held in any event.
President Obama took Ohio and Virginia and Pennsylvania on his way to a second term.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, not one congressional incumbent lost.
Some of that was due to reapportionment, in which some of those holding power found themselves in friendlier confines. (Republican Jon Runyan brushed aside a challenge from Democrat Shelley Adler, thanks in part to a redistricting that removed Democrat-friendly Cherry Hill from the Third District.)
In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Bob Menendez handily defeated Republican state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, whose campaign never gained traction.
How much of Kyrillos’ defeat was due to the effect the superstorm had on some of his constituents’ areas, how much was due to the registration edge Menendez had, and how much was due to Kyrillos’ struggles in getting his message out may never be known, but one thing is certain:
Menendez just may have gained the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said that those who were displaced by the storm could have until week’s end to file votes by email or fax, a decision Sen. Michael Doherty quickly said flew in the face of separation of powers and the Constitution.
Doherty said he understood the desire to ensure everyone had the chance to vote, but the procedure necessary to accomplish that was bypassed.
He said an emergency session of the Legislature should have been called, a law should have been passed, it would have been signed by the governor and all would have worked out well.
It is precisely during emergencies that the Constitution must be adhered to, he argued.
Gov. Christie said it was not his fault Mitt Romney lost.
He rejected criticism that welcoming President Obama to New Jersey with open arms was a slap in the face to Romney. Christie said that getting FEMA aid to storm-ravaged residents was essential, and welcoming Obama to the state to see the damage firsthand was critical to gaining that funding.
Nevertheless, there are pundits who watch every move Christie makes, and who see him as an accomplished chess player: sacrificing pieces where necessary.
A Romney loss, they say, kept a Christie-in-2016 idea viable.