Christie and Buono Court Minority Vote

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Chris Christie reached out to New Jersey’s Hispanic community even before he ran for governor.

“Back in 2008 when he was U.S. Attorney, he went out of his way at a town hall meeting to say that illegal immigrants are not criminals. That’s something you don’t often hear on the national stage from Republicans. So even to hear that speaks volumes, and Hispanics like myself and my parents, we have long memories,” said Fernando Uribe.

Christie got the endorsement this year of the Latino Leadership Alliance, which endorsed Jon Corzine in 2009.

And his campaign hit the airwaves in Spanish.

Four years ago, he got 32 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to exit polling, and aimed higher this time.

“Gov. Christie’s done a pretty good job. I think I would vote again for him,” Dashi Delgado said.

“I like his school reform policy and I like what he’s done with Sandy,” said Amirza Hernandez.

A more liberal Hispanic group, the Latino Action Network, endorsed Sen. Barbara Buono.

Dueling endorsements also describe the African-American vote.

Buono got the backing of many black elected officials.

But Christie got the coveted endorsement of the Rev. Reginald Jackson and some of his fellow black ministers.

“Why Chris Christie over Barbara Buono, who I have known for many years and is a wonderful person? The answer can be summed up in one word — education,” Jackson said.

“There are three or four black people identified in your media that support this governor. They do not speak for us,” said Sen. Ron Rice.

Education is important to inner-city voters.

“He’s taken all the funds from public schools, and my kids go to school,” Evelyn Batts said.

“I have my son in charter school, and I like the way he got all the charter schools back running in New Jersey again,” Umar Muhammad said.

Four years ago, Christie got just 9 percent of the African-American vote. He was expected to do much better this time, but how much better?

“The endorsements you have seen are from a small fraction of African-American leaders encouraged by Gov. Christie’s education agenda and his stance on drug court to reduce African-Americans going to prison. I think the majority of African-Americans are going to vote line A all the way. They love President Obama. They recently saw an African-American elected to the U.S. Senate. And they’re not going to abandon the Democratic Party at this time for Gov. Christie,” Al Bundy said.

But that didn’t stop him from trying to win over New Jersey’s minority communities and prove the GOP really can be a Big Tent.