Christie brings 20-year-old tax bill to debate

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Barbara Buono (left) with her running mate for lieutenant governor, Milly Silva (center), and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, at a Women's Equality Day gathering this summer in Trenton. (MEL EVANS / Associated Press)

Updated at 2 p.m. with response from Buono campaign.

Gov. Christie has new tax-and-spend ammo to fire against his opponent, Barbara Buono.

Turns out in Buono's first year of elected office ever, as a borough councilwoman in her hometown of Metuchen in 1993, she voted to raise property taxes 6.5 percent, according to borough budget documents gathered by the campaign. In a state taxed more than any other, in a state that hates taxes more than anything, this will be portrayed as Buono's original sin.

Some context: At the time the council was controlled by Republicans, and had a Republican mayor. Democrats took control of the council the following year, and property taxes were not increased.

"Gov. Christie is once again selectively editing history," said Buono spokesman David Turner. "A Republican mayor and four Republican Metuchen council members voted for a budget with increased revenue in. He should be pointing fingers at his own party."

Christie had vowed to keep his Republican foot on Buono's Democratic throat until the end of the campaign, and that's exactly what he's doing. New poll out this morning, one month to the day before the election, and the numbers are horrible for Buono: Christie has a 33 percent advantage among registered voters, according to Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind Poll. That's a larger lead than in August, when he was up 24 percent. He wins 38 percent of Democrats.

Pollster Krista Jenkins says Buono has an opportunity in tonight's 7 p.m. debate (on CBS channels in New York and Philly) to make some inroads, “but she’ll need more than good debate performances to close a gap of this magnitude."

The Buono camp released a statement yesterday saying that Christie would use the debate to "defend his failed economic record...Christie's ineffective trickle-down economic policies have decimated New Jersey's economy, leaving the middle class and working poor without quality opportunities and struggling to make ends meet."

Tonight, Buono is likely to cite the state's relatively high unemployment rate and record poverty numbers, blaming Christie's rejection of a minimum wage increase and cut of a tax credit for the working poor. 

Then, Christie will note that Buono raised taxes as a councilwoman, assemblywoman and senator.

Pass the popcorn.