Sweeney said Monday evening his remark about praying for a storm was a "misstatement," but he maintained his point.
"The governor is using the storm to paper over his failure to lead on issues like job creation, economic growth, women's issues, health care and housing," Sweeney said in a statement. "He has already said the storm `erased the blackboard,' meaning he is going to use it as an excuse to ignore every other issue in New Jersey."
Christie, in an interview last week, said so much time in the next year will be spent recovering from Sandy that his administration won't have time to do most other things.
"This has come to supersede most of the rest of the first-term agenda," Christie said.
The governor announced his intent to run for re-election in part for the chance to lead the state through the post-storm rebuilding.
Only one Democrat, state Sen. Barbara Buono, of Metuchen, has declared an intent to challenge Christie, but she doesn't have the support of the party's bosses. Sweeney on Monday said he was looking to recruit another candidate and might run himself.
Sweeney predicted the governor would use the State of the State speech to paint a rosier picture than reality suggests: increased poverty, 9.6 percent unemployment and the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country.
A budget snapshot presented last week by the Legislature's fiscal expert concluded that Sandy has had little impact on revenue collections, which have missed the Christie administration's targets for each of the past seven months and may force midyear budget cuts.
Sweeney was joined by Democratic Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, of Bergen County, who said six family planning centers have closed and countless others have seen their hours reduced since Christie failed to fund them. Democratic Sen. Nia Gill, of Essex County, criticized the governor for vetoing legislation that would have allowed the state to set up its own health care exchange to comply with Obama's health care overhaul.