New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has received a boost from the world of reality television with an endorsement from the star of the TLC television show "Cake Boss."
Christie announced Thursday afternoon that Buddy Valastro, the owner of Carlo's Bakery and star of the reality show, will become chairman of the Small Business for Christie coalition. The announcement, made in front of Valastro's bakery in Hoboken, was part of a broader endorsement of the incumbent by small business leaders, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Christie leads Democratic nominee Barbara Buono by 20 points in a recent poll.
“Governor Christie has kept his promise to remain committed to improving our state’s economic climate throughout the past three and a half years," Valastro said in a statement released by Christie's campaign. "By cutting taxes and red tape, getting our state budget under control without raising taxes, and fighting for real, effective tax relief, this governor has created an environment in New Jersey that gives small businesses a chance to thrive,”
This is not Valastro's first foray into politics. In June, he appeared alongside Christie and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo (D), a Christie supporter, during a fundraiser for the Turtle Back Zoo. In May, Christie thanked Valastro for his work on Hurricane Sandy recovery. Valastro also donated cakes for Christie's 2010 inauguration and a fundraiser for state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown), a Christie ally, during Kyrillos' 2012 U.S. Senate campaign. In July, Valastro donated a cake to Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop's (D) inauguration, which was filmed for an episode of "Cake Boss."
As part of the endorsement, Christie announced a series of small-business leaders from the state's 21 counties who will lead local chapters of the Small Business for Christie coalition. Among the leaders are bakery, diner, card-store and barbershop owners. Earlier this week, Christie was backed by a group of Hispanic business leaders from around the state.
The most recent poll shows that Christie's consistent 30-point lead over Buono has dropped to 20 points. Buono has been hammering Christie on economic issues, including the state's unemployment rate. Christie has defended his economic record, including on Thursday, touting $2.35 billion in tax cuts for small businesses and the creation of 143,000 in jobs.
Buono campaign spokesman David Turner contrasted Christie's event with Buono's trip Thursday to the tent city in Lakewood, N.J. Buono used the visit to highlight what she said is Christie's inattention of poor residents and the homeless. The Lakewood tent city is in a forest in the Ocean County community and was founded in 2005 to house the homeless. Christie toured a tent city in Camden during his 2009 campaign, when he pledged to help.
"While Governor Christie is spending time with celebrities, we are spending time with New Jerseyans who are down on their luck," Turner told The Huffington Post. "The governor's policies are clearly tilted to the wealthiest in the Garden State. While he has forgotten his campaign promise made in Camden during 2009, it's those who occupy the tent cities across New Jersey who need this governor's attention more than ever before. He is more focused on his personal ambitions than in helping New Jerseyans across the state."