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Status of Christie-Sweeney relationship is 'strained love' after hurricane insult

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    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signs the first piling of Belmar's new boardwalk construction Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, in Belmar, N.J. Belmar began construction on a 1.3-mile boardwalk to replace the walkway destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in October. The goal is to have it done by May. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (The Associated Press)

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    Bill Pahlck wears a Restore The Shore sweatshirt Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, in Belmar, N.J., as he and others listen to Gov. Chris Christie describe rebuildng plans as Belmar began construction on a 1.3-mile boardwalk to replace the walkway destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in October. Christie helped Belmar officials kick off the construction Wednesday morning. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (The Associated Press)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and state Senate President Steve Sweeney's political Facebook status would be "in a relationship" — but maybe trying to work some things out.

Earlier this week, Sweeney had said Christie "prayed" for a hurricane that would bring the state jobs — a remark he quickly apologized for.

Christie, speaking at at a news conference Wednesday to mark the start of reconstruction of Belmar's Superstorm Sandy-damaged boardwalk, was asked how he and Sweeney are getting along.

"I never thought I'd be asked what the status of my relationship with the senate president is," Christie quipped. "I love him, but our love is strained," he added as the crowd laughed.

Sweeney, the state's most powerful elected Democrat and a possible contender for his party's nomination for governor, said Christie had no jobs plan before the Oct. 29 storm and reconstruction would provide an economic boost through thousands of new construction jobs.

"His jobs package is a hurricane," Sweeney said during a press conference on Monday, the day before Christie was set to deliver his State of the State message. "I guess he prayed a lot and got lucky because a storm came."

Sweeney immediately apologized for the remark, but maintained that Christie is using the storm's aftermath "to paper over his failure to lead on issues like job creation, economic growth, women's issues, health care and housing."

"Steve and I are fine," Christie said Wednesday, adding that they can still work together even though Sweeney says things that anger Christie, "and vice versa."

Christie also said the fist-bump he and Sweeney shared after Tuesday's State of the State speech had no significance other than that Sweeney is sick and didn't want to infect the governor by clasping hands.

"It's not like our secret handshake," Christie said.

"That might mean the status of our relationship is better than I thought," Christie said, adding that if Sweeney were truly mad at him, he would have shaken his hand in the hope of making the governor ill.


Wayne Parry can be reached at