Buono Campaigns Without Big-Name Dems in NJ

The gubernatorial challenger staged a unity rally Sunday with more than 300 supporters

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    New Jersey State Sen. Barbara Buono

    Sen. Barbara Buono is winding up her campaign against Gov. Chris Christie without help from any big-name Democrats.

    Christie, meanwhile, touted his relationship with President Barack Obama while campaigning in Ocean County on Sunday morning.

    Buono made five stops in North Jersey on Sunday, ending with a rally in the heavily Democratic city of Paterson attended by more than 300 people.

    She was joined by the state's Democratic Party chairman and local elected officials, but no nationally known Democrats joined her on the trail as she encouraged voters to go to the polls Tuesday.

    Despite having no Democratic heavy-hitters at her side, Buono tried to paint Christie as focused on a potential White House bid rather than the middle-class people of New Jersey.

    "Let's show people what grassroots change is all about," Buono said.

    Christie, widely viewed as a strong contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, is heavily favored in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 700,000.

    Democrats in Washington and New Jersey abandoned the central Jersey senator in droves after calculating that a race against the popular Christie was unwinnable. The Democratic Governors Association, for example, has spent less than $5,000 on the race while pumping $6 million into the nation's only other governor's race this November, in Virginia.

    Buono, 60, was the only Democrat willing to take on Christie; others, including newly elected Sen. Cory Booker, decided not to run. Though Booker and Christie have partnered on development and education projects in Newark, Booker has been a reliable presence during Buono's uphill campaign.

    Former President Bill Clinton was in Virginia campaigning for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend. Hillary Clinton endorsed McAuliffe.

    Obama appeared with Christie in Asbury Park in May to promote the shore tourism season after Sandy. Buono was in the audience.

    Christie and Obama embraced famously when the president visited in the days after the storm last Oct. 29.

    Christie touted his relationship with the president during a stop at a diner in Jackson, the first of five campaign events planned for Sunday.

    The governor said he has a "good working relationship" with the president. But Christie said he's willing to criticize Obama if he's done something poorly, just as he would anyone in public life.

    Christie said he's only focused on his gubernatorial re-election when asked about 2016. He says it's unclear what the future may hold.

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