Silver medalist state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), who lost to state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) in the lieutenant governor’s contest last week, objected to the way the New York Times characterized her in its Saturday morning coverage ofGov. Jon Corzine’sLG drama.
Zeroing in on the 74-year old Weinberg’s boss fighting resume, the paper described Buono, by contrast, as the “flashier” candidate and protege of jailed ex-Middlesex County Democratic boss John Lynch.
“I’m nobody’s protege,” said Buono. “I got to where I am because I worked hard. I’m very proud of that.”
Several party sources confirm that Corzine was primed to pick Buono before Thursday, when the fedspulled busloads ofshackled politicians and operatives charged with corruption up to the doors of FBI headquarters in Newark.
The governor almost immediately embraced obvious anti-boss poster child Weinberg, additionally apersonal comfort zone choice for Corzine as the Bergen anti-establishment senator has been a longtime ally.
That the Times depicted Buono as”flashy” rankled the veteran senator from Metuchen.
“It’s offensive and misogynistic,” she said.
Andthe Lynch protege part iswrong.
Yes, Lynchand Buono had a working relationship. Butshe arrivedon the doorsteps of the Assembly after beatingthe Lynch-backed ticket.
“Their relationship was complicated,” said one Middlesex County insider who spoke on condition of anonymity. “There were times when they were together. And there were times when they weren’t. I think Barbara was more about Barbara than she ever was about John Lynch.”
Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie – now the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nominee – busted Lynch forfraud in 2006.
One of Buono’s and Lynch’s more publicized spats cametwo yearsprior tothat, when Buono resisted the boss’s efforts to oust then-Gov. Jim McGreevey before the Sept. 14th deadline so as to prevent then-Senate President Richard Codey (D-Roseland) from becoming acting governor.
“It offended me that John Lynch would attempt to manipulate the process the way he did,” Buono said. “I don’t owe John Lynch, or anyone else, anything.”
The contentious relationship Buono had with Lynch was much the same as her relations with more than a fewparty insiders. As her name circulated among Democrats in the lead-up to Corzine making his LG choice, the biggest knock on Buono, especially by the reckoning of older male party typeswas that she’s “uncontrollable.”
There was also insistently the worry among those party sources close to Newark Mayor Cory Booker that Buono in the statewide mix could potentially create a sturdy 2013 obstacle to what might be Booker’s gubernatorial ambitions, and that it would be better to buryher star now rather than lighting her name up statewide.
In a brief telephone interview this afternoon, Buono wouldn’t bash Corzine or the process but like other Democrats alert to the governor’s stalled polling numbers and stung by the events of the past week, she hardly radiated run-on-sentence enthusiasm for the cause.
“I’ll do whatever they ask me to do,” said Buono bluntly said of the Corzine campaign.