The latest polls show Gov. Chris Christie performing well, even with Democrats and women. But the political action group EMILY’s List — which works to get pro-choice Democratic women elected into office — is calling the governor aggressively anti-woman and members are throwing their support behind Democratic challenger Barbara Buono’s campaign. EMILY’s List Communications Director Jess McIntosh told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that while Buono faces an uphill battle to lead the Garden State, she offers a contrast for voters and a compelling personal story.
While McIntosh admits that Christie is very popular currently, she said people aren’t focused on the economic issues that will matter most in November. “If you dive into those poll numbers a little bit more, New Jersey voters rate him pretty poorly on jobs, the economy and taxes. He’s upside down on all three of those,” she said. “And the truth is that’s what’s going to matter when they go to the polls in November.”
McIntosh said Buono is an excellent candidate for governor and EMILY’s List wants to make sure voters get to talk about “the real Chris Christie” — his record and agenda rather than his late night talk show personality.
EMILY’s List is different than a traditional political action committee, according to McIntosh. “We have a network of over 2 million men and women across the country who are committed to seeing more Democratic women in office. And what we do is we bring them together and we focus them on the campaigns that matter most to women in the country,” she said.
Backing Buono offers a chance to “defeat somebody who’s pretty against all of our progressive agendas,” McIntosh said, adding that members are excited about New Jersey’s gubernatorial race.
Some have said Democrats don’t seem to be enthused by Buono’s candidacy and are close to Christie, but McIntosh said members of her party are rallying around her and starting to see Christie for what he’s doing.
“We’re seeing a coalescing of Democrats on the state and national level around Barbara Buono’s candidacy and we’re excited to see that. I think Democrats across the country understand that Chris Christie is not in this for New Jersey. He is in this for his national ambitions, “McIntosh said. “This is a man who maybe wants to be your governor, but certainly wants to be your president. And I think it’s a good thing for Democrats all over the country that we spend a little time actually examining what he’s done.”
When asked why Christie would praise President Barack Obama for his response to Hurricane Sandy and pick a fight with members of his own party over Sandy relief aid if he were pursuing his national ambitions, McIntosh suggested those moves were politically advantageous for him. “It seems like he’s been playing pretty strategic ball,” she said.
McIntosh said Christie is running on his personality rather than his record, which includes him vetoing equal pay measures and minimum wage increases. “This is a man who’s really pretty far to the right of the state he’s trying to represent, which is why he’s not talking about the traditional issues that come about in a campaign,” she said. “He’s doing a personality contest and he’s doing these very big, bold moves and I think we’re seeing that reflected in his poll numbers.”
Running against Christie is no easy task, however. “Oh for sure this is an uphill climb. Absolutely. I don’t want to pretend that we’re not aware of current reality but I think we have an incredible candidate in Barbara Buono with a really compelling personal story, the kind of record New Jersey can be proud of,” McIntosh said. “And I think we have a few months now to tell this story and to make a really clear contrast for voters. And I’m excited about the opportunity to do it.”