By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
At a senior citizen high-rise in Jersey City, Barbara Buono told about two dozen residents that Gov. Chris Christie is not addressing the needs of the urban poor.
“I was born and raised in New Jersey and I know that the boardwalk, restoring the shore, it’s is very important, it’s part of our identity as a state. But you know what? There’s a whole other New Jersey that needs to be rebuilt and it’s being ignored,” Buono said.
She said Christie is guided now by ambition for national office and is not as forthright as his reputation suggests.
“When he thinks it might not benefit him politically, he says nothing. I didn’t hear him say anything about Trayvon Martin,” Buono said.
“I think she’s a wonderful person and I think she would make a very good governor,” said Carolyn Hoskins of Jersey City.
“I hope that she wins because Christie? Umph,” Jersey City resident Margaret Ramsey said.
Hundreds of senior citizens attend the Bergen County senior picnic every September.
It’s fertile ground for people running for office. Christie was expected here as well today.
Buono made the most of it.
You wouldn’t know from seeing her work the crowd that Buono is 20 points behind Christie in the polls. She seems to be enjoying herself, and more and more people seem to be drawn to her as if she’s becoming the kind of celebrity that Christie already is.
How does she overcome that 20-point lead?
“Well, the way we overcame the 30-point lead — 10 points at a time,” Buono said.
She denied being frustrated by the attention Christie got from last week’s boardwalk fire, but did sound vexed about the date of the second gubernatorial debate.
“The fact that it’s the night before the election on the U.S. Senate is tragic. It should have been after,” Buono said. When asked if she will attend if the debate remains Oct. 15, she said, “I’m going to show up obviously whenever it is.”
“I will vote for her, no doubt about it,” Fort Lee resident Nina Levinson said. “Because I like her better than ‘whatever.'”
“But I will tell you I’m a Christie person. I love him to death,” Madeline Tracey of Hawthorne said.
At a park in downtown Newark, Buono was endorsed by New Jersey Citizen Action, a liberal advocacy group.
Speakers included Planned Parenthood, the New Jersey Environmental Federation and the New Jersey Black Issues Convention.
Buono, as she often does, mentioned her father — a butcher and a union man — and said she knows unions make a difference.
“And so when this governor says unions are the problem, it makes my skin crawl,” Buono said.
Conspicuous by their absence in Newark and Jersey City, any of her fellow Democratic legislators.