PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — Democrat Barbara Buono received an expected but major union endorsement Wednesday in the New Jersey governor’s race, on the same day she was to appear with the governor before hundreds of business leaders.
The New Jersey state AFL-CIO’s support comes in the same week that Republican Gov. Chris Christie received support from some high-profile Democrats.
The AFL-CIO, meeting in Atlantic City, said it supports Buono, in part because she supports a minimum wage increase that Christie vetoed. The minimum wage issue is now headed to a ballot referendum.
Union president Charles Wowkanech said Buono will do more for middle-class families than Christie does.
“She is the only candidate who understands that in order to grow our economy we need to work from the bottom up — ensuring access to a quality education, family-sustaining jobs, and economic opportunities to achieve a middle class lifestyle,” he said.
Buono and Christie were scheduled to discuss their candidacies in a joint appearance Wednesday night in Princeton at a dinner of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.
Christie received endorsements Tuesday from several Democratic Essex County leaders, including County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, the top elected official in the county government. Christie said at a news conference in Monmouth Beach on Wednesday that he expects to announce more endorsements from Democrats in coming weeks.
In another development Wednesday with a bearing on the governor’s race, Buono and other Democratic leaders reached a compromise designed to mend a rift in the party over who should lead it.
Usually, the gubernatorial candidate gets to choose the chair. But other leaders objected to Buono’s choice of Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell and were instead supporting state Sen. Ray Lesniak.
Both those lawmakers rescinded their candidacies Wednesday as Buono and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney announced a compromise choice for the job, John Currie. He’s also the chairman of the Passaic County Democratic Committee.
There has not been such excitement over the chairmanship of the state Republican organization. The party unanimously re-elected Saddle River Mayor Samuel Raia to another term Tuesday.
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