Can Buono Win?

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.

Comments (13)

  1. Bill Orr

    All polls show that people are most concerned about the economy and jobs. In addition to having an advantage on women’s issues, she should articulate steps she would take  to strengthen our economy and decrease unemployment.    

  2. brendanod

    Christie has many vulnerabilities that she must expose. She needs the voters that Obama gets here.  If Obama can carry NJ, why can’t Buono?  She needs to remind everyone that Christie wants to turn NJ into a Wal Mart utopia, where everyone makes 8 bucks per hour with no benefits…except those who are part of the Chris Christie ruling class.

    Unfortunately, I think she will have to cut a deal with the “democratic” power brokers and assure them they will have access to her office.  This was Corzine’s flaw.  Winning without the machine will make victory more difficult.  The brokers already enjoy access to Christie.  This deal will be awkward.  

    Do the Norcross’ and Adubato’s take the chance of betraying Christie with wholehearted endorsements and enthusiastic campaigning for Buono?  Or can some pragmatic, superficial, back slapping arrangement be made that endorses Buono, but doesn’t betray Christie?  Are the brokers & Christie so soulless that this type of arrangement could be plausible?  Is there a strategy to victory that doesn’t include an Adubato or Norcross endorsement?    I have confidence in Buono that she has  answers (or at least strategy) to these questions.

    Christie has many flaws.  Exploiting them with good campaigning could reach that 5% of the electorate that you need to win.

  3. A New Jersey Farmer

    What we’ve learned in 2008, 2010 and 2012 is that the modern campaign that microtargets your voters and turns them out can produce a victory. There are many teachers and union workers who abandoned Corzine in 09 and who now see what a mistake that was.

    Women, as you say, can also be brought back to the Democrats because of economic and gender issues.

    Marriage equality is on much sounder footing than it was only a year ago, and Buono’s support for that will help her.

    The post-Sandy Christie glow will fade as soon as he begins campaigning and people are made to realize that his fulminations have done little for the economy and jobs. He can highlight a slowdown in the rise of property taxes, but Buono can highlight the cost in terms of school and municipal quality and the loss of jobs.

    The question, then, becomes not, “Can She Win?” but “How Can We Ensure Her Victory?” That’s what campaigns are all about.

  4. firstamend07

    Of course she cannot win.

    But if she does the right things from now on she can get within 5-9 % by Labor Day.

    What must she do?

    She needs the powerbrokers and she needs them this week.

    She somehow has to get the unions she supported, like the ” scardy cat” CWA to come out right now and stand with her. SHE NEEDS THEIR MONEY! Time for all those big mouths who vowed to defeat Christie to sign some BIG TIME checks!

    She must hope that Christie does NOT sign the minimum wage bill so that the issue is on the november ballot.

    She has to be as nasty as Christie. Being nice will get her blown out.

    She must hope and work for ” reverse coattails”. Go and campaign in every Democratic District and stand with the Legislators who are popular and are going to win.

    Ask Progressives for a “pass” and blind support.

    Make gay marraige a civil rights issue.

    Put either a popular African -American ( Singleton ) or union darling( Giblin) on the ticket.

    If she keeps this within 5 points she can then run for Senate.  


  5. tabbycat31

    The key is the message and mobilizing the presidential only voters to get off the couch and to the polls.

    Message– Christie is still riding a wave of popularity thanks to his Sandy response.  That wave will die, but the people of NJ need to be reminded of what Christie’s pre-Sandy record is and how he’s just another GOP governor.  In 2007, Joe Biden smacked down Rudy Guiliani with his infamous comment about the only words coming out of his mouth were a noun, a verb, and 9/11.  Perhaps we need a similar message.

  6. ken bank

    I wouldn’t count on Christie making a misogynistic fool of himself ala Todd Akin or Dick Mourdock. In fact, some will recall Christie calling Akin out over his misogynistic comments during last years election. And while it is true that Christie gave a verbal tongue-lashing to Marie Corfield at a townhall, he did the same thing to a veteran Navy Seal at another townhall. And I don’t think that was a woman Christie was calling out when he was screaming while holding an ice cream cone on the Seaside boardwalk. Christie is alot of things but, like most New Jersey Republicans, he’s not the misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, gunslinging teabagger that typifies most Republicans west of the Mississippi River and below the Mason-Dixon Line.

  7. ken bank

    Ironically, Democrats this year may be victimized by their success. Thanks to Obama and congressional candidates, billions of dollars will be pouring into New Jersey’s economy to pay for relief and reconstruction. That means lower unemployment and higher revenues for the state. Whether all that is in time to help Christie before the election remains to be seen, but if we all agree that more jobs and revenue is the first priority, than Christie’s re-election may be the price we have to pay.

  8. ken bank

    The first order of business is for Democrats to unite behind a single candidate. Time for Sweeney and Pascrell to stop jerking everybody around and endorse Buono.

    Buono has a few advantages. One is Christie himself, who has become a national figure and front runner for 2016, so all eyes (and money) will be on the NJ Governor’s race which, aside from Virginia, is the only high profile race this year. Christie will be raising lots of money out of state from billionaire corporate pirates like Mark Zuckerberg. Buono needs to do the same from prominent and wealthy progressives, as well as womens groups and pro-gay organizations. It shouldn’t be that hard since she is the only progressive, pro-equality candidate running in a statewide contest this year.

    She has to make property taxes the number one issue. She has to remind voters how much taxes have increased since Christie took office, especially in suburban districts. In my town, which is in deepest, darkest GOP Ocean County, taxes went up more than twenty percent the last three years while rebates were cut or eliminated. The result? We now have a Democratic Mayor and a Democratic Committee in the heart of Christie’s Ocean County stronghold. If it can be done in GOP-dominated Barnegat, iy can be done statewide.

    Most important is Buono herself. She has to have the energy and stamina to match and hopefully exceed Christie’s. She has to take advantage of every free media she can find, especially the internet. While Christie is partying and making deals with his billionaire benefactors, Buono needs to be speaking at union halls and community centers. For every town hall Christie has, Buono should have two or three. I think if Buono takes full advantage of the opportunities, she can win. And even if she doesn’t win, she can still “win” by making the race close enough that Christie becomes damaged goods in the eyes of national Republicans, which would effectively end his chances for 2016 and force his retirement in 2018.

  9. ken bank

    What does this have to do with Barbara Buono? I’m not sure yet but it could present problems. Harkin is 73 and JayRock is 75, 15 years younger than Frank, yet both cited their age as reasons for leaving. That should cause enough embarrasment for Frank the longer he lingers in the Senate.

    So what’s the problem for Buono? The longer this drags on the more this becomes a distraction, especially considering the war of words that has erupted between Frank and Cory Booker. For arguments sake I’ll stipulate Cory was disrespectful when he had the temerity to exercise his constitutional right as a citizen to form an exploratory committee and file the necessary papers to consider a bid for the US Senate. It was disgusting and disrespectful. Having said that, Frank made it ten times worse with the ceaseless trash talking about “spanking” that came out of his mouth and his nameless staffers.

    This has to stop. Right now Barbara Buono and the Democratic Party need Cory Booker alot more than they need Frank Lautenberg, especially when it comes to raising money for Buono’s campaign which Cory has promised so far he will do. Frank needs to stop dissing Cory, endorse Barbara Buono, and follow Harkin and JayRock, so that Democrats can go into the 2013 election totally united without the distraction of an ongoing personal feud between Frank and Cory.

    In case anybody thinks I favor Booker for US Senate, I don’t. I support Frank Pallone. Which is all the more reason Frank needs to get out soon. The longer he lets this drag on the more disrespectful he is to Pallone and other potential candidates who need to start organizing and fundraising soon if they are going to compete with Cory Booker in what will likely become a very expensive primary next year.


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