Thrown out of Democratic Party leadership last week, state Sen. Barbara Buono, (D-18), Metuchen, showed no ill effects at her party tonight as the senator’s friends rallied around her in Atlantic City.
“It’s packed,” a source attending ths year’s League of Municipalities conference told PolitickerNJ.com. “Spilled out into the hallway. All county chairs attending – except Norcross.”
Opponents disputed that, pointing out that other chairs were also absent, Gloucester’s Fred Madden among them.
Asked if the high attendance level at Buono’s function was surprising considering the senator’s fall last week, the source said, “Think that might be why. People wanted to show support.”
Sources close to Buono said the senator remains on target for a 2013 challenge of Gov. Chris Christie.
“Unwilling to budge on core principles,” Buono said to questions about why she fell out of the inner circle.
Faces spied in the room included state Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14); Assemblyman Gary Schaer, (D-36); recently vanquished LD 11 candidate Vin Gopal; and Princeton Public Affairs founder Dale Florio.
Even state Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), was heard remarking to an attendee at his own function that despite caucus turbulence he wasn’t necessarily opposed to a Buono gubernatorial candidacy.
The room stayed full at Buono’s event until after the scheduled festivities officially ended. Back buzz inevitably turned to the governor’s race and the potential for Buono to fold into the candidacy of state Sen. Richard J. Codey, (D-27), a pre-Buono leadership casualty.
Sources close to the Middlesex senator said there would be no way Buono would shelve her own statewide sights to ally herself with Codey. She butted heads with Sweeney and the political ensigns of South Jersey Democratic leader George Norcross III during the two-year-span of her Senate majority leader tenure.
But before that her political relations with Codey had proved no less turbulent in the caucus, sources said.
If Buono pulls the trigger on a gubernatorial run, a source close to the senator said she would likely hone a reformer narrative aimed at dismantling “transactional politics.”