Response to bad weather becomes campaign issue in NJ governor’s race

When Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency Monday night before the nor’easter, it followed nearly two months of criticism that he acted too slowly on the night of Tropical Storm Ida.

News 12 Staff

Oct 26, 2021, 11:05 PM

Updated 906 days ago

Share:

When Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency Monday night before the nor’easter, it followed nearly two months of criticism that he acted too slowly on the night of Tropical Storm Ida in September. Flooding from that storm left 30 people across New Jersey dead.
“It’s the moment where any leader is judged by - crisis. Their moment of crisis,” says Micah Rasmussen of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.
It’s been called the politics of weather – a gubernatorial race campaign issue over how the governor has handled recent storms.
“Politics is never a factor here. It isn’t a factor in the pandemic, it isn’t a factor in weather. Our job is to save as many lives as possible,” Murphy said on Tuesday.
Murphy spoke during a briefing about the nor’easter’s aftermath.
“It takes on a political element because you don’t want that criticism a week out from the election, because you got that criticism last time,” Rasmussen says.
One of the biggest critics of Murphy’s handling of Ida is his Republican opponent, Jack Ciattarelli.
“He declared a state of emergency too late for Tropical Storm Ida. It was 13 hours after the Pennsylvania governor, three hours after the tornado, two hours after the flash flood,” Ciattarelli said.
Ciattarelli told a crowd of supporters in Hazlet on Tuesday that Murphy overreacted before the nor’easter.
“And what did he do yesterday? He declared a state of emergency five hours ahead of a drizzle,” Ciattarelli said.
Murphy defended his decision to declare an emergency.
“While you learn from other storms, you have to accept that Mother Nature comes with a unique approach each time and that recipe led us to make the decision,” Murphy said.
“He’s feeling the heat. And you see it throughout this campaign” Ciattarelli said.
Rasmussen says storm response can be a simple way for the public to evaluate governors and potential governors.
“It's not like policy analysis, where you have to wait a couple of years and you have to see why not a policy has been implemented and you can see its effectiveness and you can measure it. We all get to look the day after the storm and see how did the governor do,” he says.
Election Day is in one week on Nov. 2. Early, in-person voting continues through Sunday.


More from News 12