Trailing badly in the polls, New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono, the likely Democratic nominee for governor in the fall, is doing her best to link Gov. Chris Christie to the national GOP. “I didn’t think the Republicans could find anybody that was as out of touch with middle class values as, you know, Mitt Romney was,” Buono told Talking Points Memo earlier this month. “But I think they found somebody in Chris Christie.”
That strategy makes sense in a state that President Obama won by more than 17 points last year. But Buono's message is being undermined by several local Democratic leaders who are publicly backing the Republican governor.
On Monday, Manville Mayor Angelo Corradino, a Democrat, pledged his support for Christie, citing the Republican's response to Hurricane Sandy. Corradino's endorsement earned him scorn from other party leaders, but he's not alone. In fact, he's the fourth Democratic mayor to break with the party to back Christie this year. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, a major force in one of the state's most heavily Democratic counties, is reportedly considering endorsing Christie.
Polling shows Christie's popularity extends beyond normal partisan lines. In the latest poll from Quinnipiac University, conducted in mid-April, Christie wins 30 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents. It's up to Buono to convince those voters that Christie isn't the moderate he wants Garden Staters to think he is. That just gets harder when Democratic elected officials are giving Christie their imprimatur.