Cuomo, Christie And Building Consensus | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Cuomo, Christie And Building Consensus

Play associated audio

The governors of New York and New Jersey are beginning to plan for the rebuilding of their states after Superstorm Sandy.

Before the storm, Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey were known for their forcefulness — and big ambitions.

But their massive task comes at a time of political transition for both of them.

'It's Got To Be Done'

The ongoing storm response has kept the governors in the national spotlight for weeks now.

So much so that Christie's post-Sandy uniform — a navy fleece with his name embroidered on the chest — has become a national punch line.

His Saturday Night Live cameo was a light moment, but Sandy's impact has been humbling for the governor known for his brashness.

"The level of the devastation at the Jersey Shore is unthinkable," he said, during an Oct. 30 press conference.

Christie's praise for President Obama after the storm drew some grumbling from his fellow Republicans. And it overshadowed another shift, as Christie started emphasizing collective responsibility instead of shared sacrifice.

"We in the government will be here to work with you to have New Jersey completely recover," he continued.

In the weeks since, Christie has admitted that will take lots of federal money. And the governor who's been a champion of lowering property taxes now says rates might have to go up in affected communities.

"As long as they know the money's being spent in a way that will bring their town back to life, I think people will understand," he said. "It's got to be done."

When Christie talks about rebuilding, he emphasizes restoring what was lost along the Jersey Shore.

'This State Needs Help'

Across the Hudson River in New York, Gov. Cuomo's rebuilding plans are different. He says it's time to adapt to climate change. He made the link early, within a day of Sandy's landfall.

"We have a new reality when it comes to these weather patterns, we have an old infrastructure, and we have old systems," Cuomo said. "And that is not a good combination."

This brought attention that's been rare during Cuomo's tenure. Despite his famous name, Cuomo has kept a low profile his first two years of office. Unlike Christie, he avoids national political shows and stayed off-stage during the Democratic convention.

But deals he's brokered in a chronically dysfunctional state capital have stoked talk about his political future.

Cuomo's rebuilding plans now rely on more than Albany lawmakers. He wants comprehensive infrastructure upgrades to protect from fiercer storms. To pay for it, he's asked Congress for $30 billion.

On an Albany AM 1300 radio show, Cuomo acknowledged his timing is bad.

"They'd rather not deal with it because of the fiscal cliff and everything else, but I'm the governor of the state of New York, and this state needs help, and it's my job to make sure they know the state needs help," he said.

'Justified And Realistic'

For both Cuomo and Christie, their re-election — and any larger political ambitions — hinge on how well they maneuver these post-storm politics.

"Cuomo has an easier path to follow here," said New York University political scientist Patrick Egan, who adds that Cuomo's attention to climate change and infrastructure aligns with his party. Christie, meanwhile, has to lobby for recovery funds without further alienating his Republican brethren.

"He doesn't want to sound like a taker, to use the language of some conservatives, and so he needs to think about how to, if he makes a request at all, to make a request that sounds justified and realistic," Egan said.

So far, though, Christie's approach has earned him some new fans. A recent poll asked New York City voters which political leader performed best after Sandy. At the top of the list, over Democrats Andrew Cuomo and President Obama, was Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Copyright 2012 WNYC Radio. To see more, visit


Rod McKuen, The Cheeseburger To Poetry's Haute Cuisine

Poet Rod McKuen was loved by millions but mocked by literary critics. He died this week at age 81.

Shake Shack Sizzles With IPO As McDonald's Fizzles

Shares of the burger chain shot up Friday, its first trading day. Shake Shack and other fast-casual joints are taking a bite out of McDonald's, which can't recast itself to fit the current trend.

What Romney's Retreat Means For GOP Hopefuls

NPR's Scott Simon speaks with senior Washington editor Ron Elving about the narrowing Republican presidential field for 2016 and what we've seen so far in the first month of the new Congress.

Media Outlets Partner With Snapchat To Appeal To Younger Users

As people disappear from the audiences of conventional news organizations, 11 media outlets have partnered with Snapchat in the U.S. to offer its younger users easily digested fare within the app.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.