New Jersey Citizen Action Supporting Buono With 'Boots On The Ground'

The Record ( — Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Record

A liberal citizen watchdog coalition endorsed Democrat Barbara Buono Tuesday pledging to lead a grassroots effort to help the Middlesex County state senator defeat Governor Christie in November.

New Jersey Citizen Action, which has 60,000 family members and 100 affiliated and allied organizations in its coalition, announced its support during an event in WashingtonPark in Newark.

"New Jersey needs a leader who will put New Jersey and our working families first," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action. "Sen. Buono is that leader. She has a proven track record of fighting for New Jersey's families and looking out for those who are the most vulnerable."

Buono thanked the organization for its support, calling it one of her most meaningful endorsements to-date.

"This endorsement means the world to me because at the heart of the progressive movement is a desire to move forward as one, the idea that we're all in it together and Citizen Action is fully committed to that idea," she said. "I share your vision, I share your values and I look forward to working together to build a better New Jersey."

Salowe-Kaye cited Christie's reduction of the Earned Income Tax Credit, equating it to a tax hike on the working poor, and his elimination of $7.5 million in funding for women's health care. She said the endorsement is significant, because it means volunteers, phone banks and canvasses in support of Buono.

"We will be out in the field, we will be ringing door bells, we will be standing at the polls and we will be making phone calls to our members," she said.

Buono, who trails Christie by 20 points in the polls and faces a nearly 10 to one fundraising disadvantage, could use the support to narrow the gap.

New Jersey Citizen Action was joined by representatives from the state's Black Issues Convention, Planned Parenthood Political Action Committee of New Jersey, NJ Environmental Federation, and the Latino Action Network, all pledging to support Buono.

The Rev. Ronald Tuff, second vice-chair of the Black Issues Convention and a NJ Citizen Action board member, said his organization is concerned about the state's high unemployment rate, particularly its affect on minorities.

"We know that Barbara Buono will work with us and Barbara Buono cares about not only putting our community back to work, but also making a livable wage," he said.

Buono has been campaigning in support of a November ballot question that would raise the minimum wage by $1 to $8.25, with future increases tied to inflation through a constitutional amendment.

Christie vetoed a bill that would have raised the wage to $8.50 and tied future increases to the Consumer Price Index, instead suggesting phasing in a $1 increase over three years. He opposes tying future increases to inflation.

"This endorsement is not just a piece of paper or a letter to the candidate, it's boots on the ground, it's people on the phones telling people to vote for Sen. Buono, to vote for the minimum wage and to vote for New Jersey's working families," Salowe-Kaye said.

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