The presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was injured in a car accident on Monday night.
State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) received minor cuts to her face during the accident while leaving a Franklin Township Democratic Committee meeting where she was the featured speaker, PolitickerNJ.com reported. Buono, 59, was riding in the backseat and was the only occupant of the car to be injured. NJ.com reports that the exact cause of the accident remains under investigation.
Buono spokesman David Turner said in a statement Tuesday morning that Buono was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident and "was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure." He said Buono was released from the hospital Monday evening with the cut on her forehead and returned to work Tuesday morning.
Buono was the first candidate to enter the Democratic race to challenge Christie and in recent weeks united state Democratic Party leaders behind her. The party unity came after a several week period where Democratic leaders frantically searched for an alternative to Buono, who has been trailing Christie in recent polls. Buono faces two minor opponents in the June primary. A poll released Tuesday shows Buono trailing Christie 21 percent to 63 percent.
Franklin Township is one of the largest communities in Somerset County, where county Democratic Party Chairwoman Peg Schaffer was among Buono's earliest supporters.
Buono has been a state senator since 2002, following seven years in the State Assembly. She is the first woman to serve as Senate majority leader and was considered a potential candidate for lieutenant governor in 2009 on a ticket with former Gov. Jon Corzine (D). Buono is the only woman seeking a governorship in the nation so far this year.
Corzine made headlines in 2007 when he almost died in a serious car accident on the Garden State Parkway. Corzine, who was rushing from Atlantic City to the governor's mansion in Princeton, sustained serious injuries when he was thrown to the back of his SUV. He was not wearing a seatbelt.
This story has been updated with comment from Buono's spokesman.