Two political stars are being put to the test as a massive storm being billed as “life threatening” and “potentially historic” sweeps its way into the Northeast.
After confronting the unprecedented disaster of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, are facing yet another potentially disastrous test of their executive abilities. Christie took his most public step this weekend toward a 2016 presidential bid by launching a leadership PAC while Cuomo is being watched closely by party bigwigs who see him as one of only a handful of Democratic 2016 alternatives to Hillary Clinton.
While the storm is expected to also heavily impact neighboring states including Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, it’s the New Jersey-New York executives who also face the national political side effects. The governors will need to show that they can effectively ramp up their state’s emergency protocols and respond swiftly to dynamic storm conditions that will bring snow, freezing rain and freezing temperatures.
Blizzard conditions are expected across the Northeast, which will make driving conditions hazardous as large areas are whited out by upwards of one to three feet of snow. The National Weather Services said conditions of the incoming nor’easater could be “life threatening.” The storm could also bring power outages and coastal flooding.
Cuomo has already urged commuters to work from home Monday as the storm is expected to strengthen during the evening rush hour commute.
Both governors on Monday declared a state of emergency – as did newly inaugurated Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker — in their respective states and announced transit closures beginning Monday night.
Christie warned his constituents Monday during a press conference to brace for “really hazardous conditions,” urging residents to stay off the roads after Monday afternoon until state officials can clear the roads.
Christie presented a confident front as he described a “full statewide mobilization,” reminding the public that this is his sixth winter as governor and that he has led his state through the response to superstorm Irene and Hurricane Sandy.
But even as he addressed the dangers of the incoming storm, Christie faced questions over the political action committee that will begin fundraising for a potential presidential run.
“The more important issue of the day today is the health and safety of the people of New Jersey,” Christie said.
Meanwhile, another New Jersey politician known for his hands-on approach to governing will be sitting out on the sidelines in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Cory Booker, the former Democratic mayor of Newark, New Jersey, tweeted on Monday that he won’t be out shoveling his Jersey streets as the storm hits his state.
“Like Kobe Bryant, I’m on the bench for this snow storm (sadly in DC, ugh!),” he tweeted to CNN’s Ashley Codianni.
With just 1 to 3 inches expected by Tuesday, the Beltway will escape largely unscathed.
But those few inches will be enough to shut down the House of Representatives as the Republican leadership canceled votes scheduled for Monday evening, a scheduling change that also disrupted plans to vote on a border security bill on Wednesday.
“Due to inclement weather, we no longer expect votes in the House tonight,” a notice from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office said.