Who is the man who may be most responsible for Gov. Christie's political successes -- and his defeats? In Sunday's paper, I took a long, long look at Senate President Stephen Sweeney, pulling the curtain back to see how the state's most powerful elected Democrat operates. Here's the story:
On a brisk and sunny January day, in front of an oil refinery's circular white storage tanks, at the intersection of two of South Jersey's busiest roadways, Steve Sweeney embarked on a political odyssey unlike anything the state had ever seen.
His goal, he told reporters gathered for his news conference, was to use his powers as the state Senate president to make sure the large refinery behind him finally got cleaned of contamination.
But Sweeney wasn't just standing at a rundown refinery as New Jersey's highest elected Democrat, whose on-again, off-again relationship with Republican Gov. Christie affected statewide policy. He was also a local political boss sticking it to interlopers who had just taken over governing in his hometown. He was also a longtime union leader defending laborers who had just lost their refinery jobs.
Mostly, he was a self-proclaimed fighter with a reputation for revenge who was willing to do something unprecedented in the history of New Jersey: Sue his own hometown, gambling $300,000 in state tax dollars in the process.
As always, Sweeney positioned himself to win.
But did he?
To read the rest of the story, click here.