Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono officially announced Milly Silva as her running mate this week. The choice was met with criticism from Gov. Chris Christie who said Silva is unqualified for the position. Christie continues to get Democrats to endorse him in his bid for reelection, with lifelong Democratic Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli throwing his support behind Christie today. Buono told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that she picked Silva because she was the best candidate and believes she has enough resources to get her message out to voters.
Buono said the election isn’t going to be won based on how many elected officials endorse either candidate. “It’s gonna be based upon who has the better economic plan to pull New Jersey out of this economic morass that we have. We still have 400,000 out of work. We have the highest unemployment in the region. That hasn’t really changed from four years ago. We have a higher unemployment rate than New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania. That hasn’t changed,” she said.
According to Buono, polls have shown that “pocketbook issues” are at the top of voters’ lists. “It is the issue for middle class and working class New Jerseyans all across the state,” she said. “The polls confirm what people tell me. And when I go around the state, in the beauty parlors and on the bus stops, that’s what people are talking about. The highest property taxes ever. The fact that they have to work two, three jobs to put food on the table and they still can’t make ends meet.”
Some were surprised by Buono’s choice of Milly Silva as her running mate because she hasn’t run for office or had experience in government. Buono said she chose “the candidate that I felt could be a partner that shares my vision to lift up the middle class and the working poor in New Jersey. Milly Silva is that person.”
Buono said holding elective office isn’t a prerequisite for running for governor, citing Gov. Byrne, Gov. Hughes and Gov. Reagan as examples. She said Silva has the skill set to succeed as lieutenant governor.
“At its core, government is about consensus building, it’s about compromise, it’s about negotiating. And Milly Silva brings these skills to the table from the private sector to the public sector,” Buono said.
Having enough funds to participate in a gubernatorial race is important. Buono said her campaign plans to file for matching funds Tuesday and admits Christie has raised more money.
“We never thought we’d have the kind of resources an incumbent governor has. This governor didn’t have the resources that Jon Corzine did, was outspent enormously. We will have enough money to be competitive, and by that I mean we will have enough money to get our message out to the 9 million plus people in New Jersey who are hurting, those middle class and working poor people who are out there telling us that we want an alternative,” Buono said.
When asked what the biggest surprise has been during the campaign, Buono said, “The biggest surprise is having to really go into my past and think about who I am, what made Barbara Buono the person, come to the point that I’m at. You have to reflect. It’s been a soul searching challenge for me and it’s been very rewarding.”