Saturday, December 27, 2014

First Dem announces candidacy against Christie

And we have a contender!

First Dem announces candidacy against Christie

Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) questions Senate President Stephen Sweeney (cq-not shown) as he testifies during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on the plan for public workers to contribute more of their salaries to their health care benefits, in Trenton Jun. 16, 2011. ( Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer )
Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) questions Senate President Stephen Sweeney (cq-not shown) as he testifies during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on the plan for public workers to contribute more of their salaries to their health care benefits, in Trenton Jun. 16, 2011. ( Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer )

Full story from today's paper, here.

And we have a contender!

Sen. Barbara Buono, a Middlesex County Democrat and a consistent critic of Gov. Christie from the left, made her long-expected announcement today to run for governor.

The former senate majority leader fell out of favor with the party establishment last year after opposing a law, approved by Democrats and signed by Christie, that reduced pensions and benefits for public workers. Today, she went after both Christie and "party bosses" in a YouTube announcement video.

A mother of four and step-mother of two, the 59-year-old attorney and avid runner is something of the anti-Christie, in both temperment and ideology. After the governor summoned legislators back to Trenton over the summer to listen to his speech on his tax cut proposal, Buono said: "I would caution parents to keep their children away from the TV sets in the hours from 11 to noon because I suspect it will be rated ‘R’ for invective and incitement to violence. He almost becomes pathological when he doesn’t get what he wants. That’s what you’re seeing here.”

In her announcement video, Buono cited New Jersey's high unemployment rate and high property taxes as issues she's concerned about. She said she opposes Christie's income-tax proposal and, unlike Christie, she supports marriage equality and funding for Planned Parenthood.

Christie announced his candidacy last month, saying he wanted to stay another four years to guide the state's recovery from Sandy.

Buono is the first official candidate from the Democratic side, and she is likely to be the only woman -- a potentially significant attribute, because some polls have shown Christie has weak support among females. The path to her candidacy was smoothed when another Democrat from her county, state party chairman Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D., Middlesex), announced Saturday that he wouldn't run.  

"Physically, they see that I'm a woman, I'm petite," Buono told me in April. But don't be "misled," she warned: "I grew up as a tomboy, and I've never been afraid to stand up to arrogant bullies."

Meanwhile, we're still waiting for an announcement from Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is said to be able to "clear the field" of Democratic challengers if he decides to run. Booker would certainly get establishment support and money from the North and South Jersey Democratic power brokers.

Booker has undertaken a national media flirtation this week, appearing on CNN twice, telling Bob Schieffer of CBS's "Face The Nation" that Christie is "vulnerable" and sitting down with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" tomorrow (Christie was on last week). In my story yesterday, he said there'd be an announcement by Christmas.

A spokeswoman said Buono is not taking calls from the press today. But here's her video:

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