By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
She brought it up this morning right off the bat.
“A lot of people in the audience are asking me about Chris Christie’s television commercial. A lot of people are angry about it,” gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono said. “And I said to them, well, if I had this governor’s record on taxes and the economy, I would want to distort it as well and I would want to try to tie me to a wildly unpopular former governor because that’s the only Democrat he’ll ever beat.”
When asked if the point about her raising taxes 154 times is true, Buono said, “Look, this is a governor who just doesn’t want to talk about his own record, so he’s trying to distort mine. That’s a Republican talking point. I’ve been in the legislature for a while and I stand by my record.”
When asked if her administration would impose more tax and fee hikes, Buono laughed. “I could tell you that as governor I will be a fiscally responsible governor as I have been. I’ll be a governor who reflects New Jersey’s progressive stance on social issues and I will be a governor that has a real economic plan that creates jobs,” she said.
Buono was speaking to the Bergen County Retired Educators Association, an arm of the NJEA, which endorsed her recently.
“She’s a pro-public education candidate, she’s a pro-union candidate, she protects the things that we hold sacred, and frankly the governor has caused us many problems,” said NJEA President Barbara Keshishian.
Buono and the NJEA are on the same wavelength on a number of issues from pensions and collective bargaining to vouchers. But no one here is under any illusion that electing her will be easy.
“Let’s face it. The senator is not well known yet. But it’s up to us to guarantee that she is well-known before the November election,” Bergen County Retired Educators Association President Paul Richert said.
Buono has a fund-raiser tonight in South Jersey hosted by Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Down 30 in the polls, she pushes on.
“We’re raising money, we’re actually gaining momentum, we’re going to be going up on TV very soon and the party’s actually coalescing,” Buono said.
It’s a grassroots effort, she says, and it’s growing.