By David Cruz
It may be a bit much to call Barbara Buono a shrinking candidate just yet, but with a new poll out today showing her trailing by 24 points, the Democrat is increasingly hard to find and some are suggesting, out of step. Yesterday, as the governor and seemingly the entire state marked the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Buono virtually ignored the issue at her one campaign appearance.
“At this point for Barbara Buono and her campaign it’s hard to find what issue is going to stick,” said PolitickerNJ political reporter Mark Bonamo. “Christie is probably almost untouchable on the Sandy issue — or at least he is in his mind — but, at the same time Buono was trying to change the focus.”
Lately, Buono has been lamenting the lack of press coverage of her campaign and the lack of depth in the coverage of Chris Christie.
“Whether it’s the four Sandy hearings where the governor didn’t show up and didn’t send anyone from his administration to hear the stories of the victims that are still living in trailers and in trauma,” Buono said in an interview last week. “I mean, that’s the thing. The people need to know.”
Recent polls suggest that Buono’s right. Many Sandy victims feel like they have been left behind, but that has not stopped the governor whose new campaign ad highlights the governor’s role in Sandy. Christie’s handling of the state after Sandy — and his deft maneuvering of both emergency and general state funds — has led more than 50 Democrats to jump ship and endorse the Republican, most notably Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, whose support Buono either sought, or didn’t, depending on who you talk to.
At the NJTV debate, Buono denied seeking the endorsement. Today, Phil Alagia, DiVincenzo’s chief of staff, recalled things differently. He says there were two meetings at which Buono sought the endorsement. The first in January, early on in the campaign, when most Democrats were backing away from challenging Christie.
“And then a week or two later Joe D and I sat in her living room in Metuchen, just Joe, myself, Barbara Buono and one of her staff and again she asked us for … our support,” said Alagia.
Buono had what her campaign called “previously scheduled private meetings” today and three of her surrogates were likewise unavailable to speak on her behalf.
Neither Buono nor Christie will have media availabilities today. But before 8 p.m., Christie will have made seven campaign appearances. Buono, just one.