Christie was away in Florida while his second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, was off with her family in Mexico when as much as 30 inches fell on parts of New Jersey. That left a state senator in charge of the response and prompted derision from across the political spectrum.
"We clearly made a mistake if we created the office [of] lieutenant governor and wasted money if the lieutenant governor is not going to be here when the governor is out of state," said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak of Union.
Conservatives weren't thrilled either, with one website complaining about "scheduling idiocy." Liberals ran headlines such as "O Governor, Where Art Thou?"
The storm may snowball into the first real test of Christie's still young administration. The take-charge politician, who didn't blink when he canceled the nation's largest public works project, has seen his name pop up in presidential talk since soon after being sworn in as New Jersey's 55th governor in January.
Whether he faces the same fate as other elected officials accused of mishandling snow removal or being absent when a major storm hit remains to be seen.
Christie is, after all, hardly the only politician getting criticism in the current snowmageddon. Just ask New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose city's handling of the snow emergency has earned unwelcome attention for stalled subways and errant tow trucks.
For both men, the list of politicians undone by winter weather is, if nothing else, instructive:
- Another New York mayor, John Lindsay, was blindsided by 15 inches of snow that paralyzed the city in February 1969 and left some parts of Queens waiting for snow plows a week later. The storm prompted what The New York Times called "a political crisis that became legendary in the annals of municipal politics."
- Michael Bilandic, who became mayor of Chicago after the death of Richard J. Daley, saw his political career buried a decade later when the city was hit by a record 7 feet of snow. His inept handling of the emergency brought the "city that works" to a standstill and led to his defeat in 1979 by Jane Byrne, Chicago's first and only female mayor.
- Denver Mayor William McNichols may have transformed the Mile High City into a booming metropolis in the 1970s, but when a Christmas Eve 1982 blizzard shut down municipal services, voters took it out on him the following year to end his 14-year tenure.
- Washington Mayor Marion Barry was in California for the Super Bowl, partying, playing tennis and getting a manicure, when a winter storm walloped the capital in January 1987. His absence, combined with his problems with another white substance and other assorted scandals, would eventually lead to his downfall.