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Christie takes oath amid scandal, touts mandate

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As wife Mary Pat Christie holds the Bible, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is sworn in for his second term by New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, right, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, in Trenton, N.J. Mired in a scandal, Christie sought to turn back the clock Tuesday and focus on the mandate he said he got in November to “stay the course” and put aside differences, even as Democrats ramped up an investigation into whether his administration abused its power. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

As wife Mary Pat Christie holds the Bible, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is sworn in for his second term by New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, right, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, in Trenton, N.J. Mired in a scandal, Christie sought to turn back the clock Tuesday and focus on the mandate he said he got in November to “stay the course” and put aside differences, even as Democrats ramped up an investigation into whether his administration abused its power. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie shakes hands as he leaves a prayer service in celebration of his inauguration at the New Hope Baptist Church on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 in Newark. The celebrations to mark the start of Christie’s second term could be tempered by investigations into traffic tie-ups that appear to have been ordered by his staff for political retribution and an allegation that his administration linked Superstorm Sandy aid to approval for a real estate project. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat, applaud during a hymn as they attend a prayer service in celebration of his inauguration at the New Hope Baptist Church on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 in Newark. The celebrations to mark the start of Christie’s second term could be tempered by investigations into traffic tie-ups that appear to have been ordered by his staff for political retribution and an allegation that his administration linked Superstorm Sandy aid to approval for a real estate project.(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat applaud during a hymn as they attend a prayer service in celebration of his inauguration at the New Hope Baptist Church on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 in Newark. The celebrations to mark the start of Christie’s second term could be tempered by investigations into traffic tie-ups that appear to have been ordered by his staff for political retribution and an allegation that his administration linked Superstorm Sandy aid to approval for a real estate project. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is silhouetted as he attends a prayer service with his family in celebration of his inauguration at the New Hope Baptist Church on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 in Newark. The celebrations to mark the start of Christie’s second term could be tempered by investigations into traffic tie-ups that appear to have been ordered by his staff for political retribution and an allegation that his administration linked Superstorm Sandy aid to approval for a real estate project. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie sought to turn back the clock as he was sworn into a second term Tuesday, saying voters gave him a mandate in November to “stay the course” and put aside partisan differences, even as Democrats ramped up an investigation into whether his administration abused its power.

Christie, considered a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2016, was inaugurated amid a snowstorm that forced him to cancel an evening celebration on Ellis Island, and then gave an 18-minute address that dwelled on his 22-point election victory in the fall. He did not mention the investigations that have already led to the firing or departure of four top aides or associates.

The people making up a broad coalition that returned him to office, he said, “have demanded that we stay the course they have helped set.”

“It was the largest and loudest voice of affirmation that the people of our state have given to any direction in three decades,” Christie said, noting priorities including the economy, education and improving access to jobs for recovering drug addicts. “We have no moral option but to heed the voice of the voters, and that is exactly what I intend to do.”

His speech came less than an hour after Democratic lawmakers announced they were consolidating twin probes into allegations that aides engineered traffic jams in September in the community of Fort Lee as political retribution, apparently against the town’s mayor for not endorsing his re-election bid.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who was on the podium during the inaugural address, said the merger of Assembly and Senate committees was the “optimal approach to ensuring the people of New Jersey get the answers they need to these questions about the abuse of government power.”

Lawmakers have not decided whether the probe will also be extended to allegations raised over the weekend by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. The Democratic mayor said Christie’s underlings tied the delivery of Superstorm Sandy aid to the low-lying city of 50,000 across from Manhattan to support for a prime real estate project.

Zimmer said she was told by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno that the ultimatum came directly from Christie. Guadagno, who was also sworn in Tuesday to a second term, has strongly denied those claims and described them as “false” and “illogical.”

Zimmer met with investigators from the U.S. attorney’s office for several hours Sunday and gave them journal entries she said were made at the time of the conversation at a supermarket opening in May. She also has offered to take a lie-detector test or testify under oath.

The U.S. attorney’s office is also looking into the traffic jams, which happened over a few days when lanes leading to the busy George Washington Bridge to New York City were closed.

Christie has apologized, denied any involvement with or knowledge of

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