By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
Barbara Buono wanted to talk about the economy, but ended up discussing her running mate, union leader Milly Silva. She defended Silva’s credentials, telling a crowd of AFSCME union members in Atlantic City that Silva would make a great lieutenant governor.
“She has been working on behalf of lifting up working men and women for the last 20 years as an executive vice president of 1199 SEIU and in that role she understands how public policy can change people’s lives,” Buono said.
Buono also fired back at Hudson County Republican Chairman Jose Arango for making what Buono calls sexist comments about Silva.
“This chairman of the Hudson County Republican Committee comes out and says that my running mate is as if he would have selected his secretary to run on the ticket. Now how dare he? That’s the most sexist, demeaning statement. I want to know if there were a male on my ticket, would he say the executive vice president of one of the largest unions in the nation is comparable to his secretary? No, I don’t think so,” Buono said.
Buono is among a host of Democratic women leaders outraged by Arango’s comments. Among them, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, who said Arango should apologize.
Arango issued a statement saying he apologizes for saying anything that may have been incorrect or interpreted as disrespectful. And he said Silva’s gender has nothing to do with her lack of experience.
That Arango statement is according to published reports. The apology did little to quell the firestorm.
“I called on Chris Christie with a host of other women and leaders to disavow that man’s comments and to ask him to resign. And what did I get from Chris Christie? A deafening silence,” Buono said.
Buono says Christie, who usually doesn’t hold his tongue, has also been silent on other crucial issues including the Zimmerman verdict and the Supreme Court’s decision striking down key portions of the Voting Rights Act.
“What more important issue is there to weigh in on than an assault on our democracy, then an attack on our voting rights? And yet he remains silent,” Buono said.
At an earlier campaign stop in Pleasantville, Buono’s support for increasing the minimum wage and her pledge to address Atlantic City’s struggling casino industry resonated with local Democrats.
It’s so-called small “kitchen table” campaign events like this one and her call to get “souls to the polls” that Buono hopes will help her gain some momentum.