Barbara Buono's campaign for New Jersey governor may be bleeding supporters from her own party, but the Democratic state senator managed to pick up her first Republican endorsement Friday.
Buono announced that Spotswood Mayor Nick Poliseno is backing her in her uphill campaign against Gov. Chris Christie (R). Poliseno, who said his decision centered on property tax issues, is the first Republican elected official to defect from the Christie camp.
“This endorsement goes beyond politics; it’s about our economy,” Poliseno said in a statement released by Buono’s campaign. “Governor Christie talks a big game, but he has failed to deliver results for places like Spotswood, where too many of our friends and neighbors are struggling to make ends meet because of record high property taxes.”
Buono has sought to make tax and economic issues the hallmark of her campaign. Property taxes are a perennial issue in New Jersey elections, with Christie announcing a series of property tax relief measures early in his term, not all of which passed the Democratic-controlled legislature. The governor did enact an annual 2 percent cap on property tax increases for local governments and school districts, along with public employee pension and benefit reforms and changes to arbitration rules for public-sector negotiations.
Christie campaign spokesman Kevin Roberts told The Huffington Post that it was Buono who helped keep property taxes high in the Garden State, by voting against Christie's agenda in the state legislature. Roberts said that Spotswood is seeing a $300,000 decrease in spending due to Christie's plan.
“The only surprise here is that the mayor would back a candidate who has stood directly in the way of common sense reforms to lower the cost government, save taxpayers money, and provide direct relief to middle and working class families," Roberts said in an email. "Barbara Buono’s record is one of voting 154 times for higher taxes and fees, and property taxes that have doubled on New Jersey families on her watch."
Oddly enough, Poliseno has praised Christie in the past, calling the governor his "mentor" in a December 2011 tweet and saying that a Christie proposal would save Spotswood money in another tweet that same month.
The mayor's endorsement comes as Buono has struggled to gain traction in her battle against Christie, whom she trails by more than 30 points in recent polls. Her campaign has been plagued by low fundraising and increasing fractures in the state Democratic Party.
Christie has picked up a slew of Democratic endorsements in the past few months and now has 14 Democratic elected officials backing his reelection effort. Several top Democrats, including Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, state Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City) and Jersey City Mayor-elect Steve Fulop have not indicated whom they will endorse and have left the door open to backing Christie.