The state Senate president might be wishing he could turn back the clock a few hours, after Republicans seized on Steve Sweeney’s statement that Gov. Chris Christie is “lucky” Superstorm Sandy struck.
Sweeney, a Democratic state senator from West Deptford, was quoted as saying Christie’s “job package is a hurricane. I guess he prayed a lot and got lucky a storm came,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sweeney, speaking Monday afternoon, was making a point that a natural disaster shouldn’t be an employment solution for New Jersey.
Sweeny apologized in the next breath for the statement, but it was too late.
Republicans quickly began issuing releases slamming Sweeney for his remarks, made ahead of Christie’s State of the State speech Tuesday.
A press release from the governor’s office simply titled “Lucky” outlined the devastation from Superstorm Sandy. Among the bullet points:
- 346,000 homes and housing units damaged or destroyed
- Nearly 250,000 New Jerseyans registered for assistance with FEMA
- 6.4 million cubic meters of debris to be removed
- 100,000 storm-related unemployment claims filed
Declan O’Scanlon, the Republican Assembly budget officer who represents Monmouth County, also decried Sweeney’s remarks in a statement.
“While I have supported some of the reforms proposed by Sen. Sweeney, his remark was insensitive and particularly offensive to the people along the Jersey Shore who were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. His outrageous comment is an example of why the public has a cynical view of the Legislature,” O’Scanlon said.
Sen. Jennifer Beck of Monmouth County said, "I can't imagine anybody praying for what was one of the most horrific disasters to strike New Jersey. There is no upside here, no amount of job creation can help replace what tens-of-thousands lost in the matter 24 hours."