So Dick Codey’s out. Too bad: I like the man, I like the politician, and I think he would have been a good candidate. Feel free to disagree in the comments.
But right now, the only Democrat who is willing to publicly express her desire to take on the admittedly very popular Chris Christie is Barbara Buono.
Slowly, the endorsements are trickling in from throughout the NJ Democratic party. But there is hardly a rush to get behind Buono – at least until the rest of the potential candidates, like Senate President Steve Sweeney, make their intentions known.
The non-endorsement-that-sounds-like-an-endorsement of South Jersey Democratic boss George Norcross – who praised Buono before Sweeney has declared his intentions – is indicative of what the party leadership must be thinking: it’s admirable that Buono wants to go up against Christie, but can she actually win?
I’ve made this analogy before, but I think it’s worth considering again:
Yes, Buono is not a former first lady; that’s a big advantage that Hillary Clinton enjoyed in the New York Senate race. But the dynamic here is similar: Clinton – a smart, capable woman – made her opponent, Rick Lazio looks like a misogynistic jerk just by letting him be himself.
Remind you of anyone?
Chris Chrstie has a problem with women: he regularly insults and berates them, and he pushes policies that deny women adequate health care. His war on teachers is a proxy war on women. Pre-Sandy Christie had a big gender gap in his favorability ratings; it would be foolish to think the storm blew that gap away permanently.
There is a serious case to be made that the best way to beat Chris Christie is to run a woman against him. Is he disciplined enough to keep his misogyny in check? I don’t think so – and that would play to Buono’s benefit in a unique way.
Chris Christie will be very hard to beat, but the best chance we have is to attack his vulnerabilities hard. Buono is poised to do this in a way no other serious Democratic contenders could. I don’t know if that will be enough, but it is an angle worth considering.