NEW BRUNSWICK – Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) tonight put on her Election Year game face for gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18) and urged fellow Democrats to do the same in the name of banishing Gov. Chris Christie and his Republican agenda.
“I have come here tonight with one singular message – let’s get our act together and let us not fall into the trap of self-deprecation with the notion that we cannot elect Barbara Buono as governor.
“We can do it,” Oliver declared in front of the microphone at the Heldrich Hotel in front of a ballroom crammed with 200 Democrats.
The speaker denounced Christie’s “right wing policies of exclusion,” and challenged party members to rally around Buono.
“We cannot represent the interests of all unless we have a Democrat of the caliber of Barbara Buono sitting in that front office,” Oliver said.
The crowd responded favorably throughout to Oliver’s speech.
“If in New Jersey we permit the Republican Party to occupy the governership in 2013, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina when you have a Republican occupying the White House in 2016,” she said.
Oliver’s chief party ally, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, was not in the room tonight.
Neither was his chief acolyte, state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), chair of the Senate Education Committee.
Insiders expect DiVincenzo to either support Christie for governor or – at the very least – appear uncomfortably silent from now until Election Day.
But tonight Oliver gave every indication that, for her part, she fully backs Buono.