Chris Christie Challenger, Barbara Buono, Out With Million-Dollar TV Ad

(Image Credit: Mel Evans/AP Photo)

The woman challenging Chris Christie in his gubernatorial re-election bid in New Jersey, Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono, is out with her first television ad today.

The ad begins running this week and is a more than $1 million buy, a Buono campaign aide said.

The ad's goals are two-fold: hitting her opponent on the state of the economy and introducing herself to voters where she still has low name recognition. Buono, 59, has had digital ads, including one released this week poking fun at the pronunciation of her last name, but this is the first one New Jersey residents will see in their pricey New York City media market. It will run on network and cable television, per the aide. It is is not running in the Philadelphia market, the other market New Jersey residents in the southern part of the state see. It is also one of the nation's most expensive markets.


"To hear Gov. Christie tell it, everything in New Jersey is going just fine. Well I see another New Jersey with 400,000 unemployed. One of the worst jobless rates in the country. Working and middle class families have seen costs soar, from property taxes to college tuition," Buono says in the 30-second ad before introducing her story to New Jersey.

"I know that struggle, because I lived it. My dad was an immigrant who worked as a butcher. Working my way through school, I was able to pull myself up. I'm Barbara Buono. As your governor, I'll fight to give every New Jersey child the same chance I got."

Christie's spokesman Kevin Roberts responded to the ad, saying in a statement, "As the architect of Jon Corzine's budgets, Barbara Buono was central to those disastrous policies that brought New Jersey to the brink of catastrophe."

"Barbara Buono may be 'very proud' of her tenure as Jon Corzine's budget chair, but New Jerseyans know that we cannot go back to the failed era of more taxes, more debt and fewer jobs under Jon Corzine and Barbara Buono," Roberts said.


Despite the financial and polling differences between the two candidates - Christie, 50, has wide margins in both - Christie himself put out an attack ad going after Buono last week.

"Meet Barbara Buono. Jon Corzine's budget chair now running for governor. Buono voted 154 times to raise our taxes," a narrator says before naming the taxes and pivoting to Christie. "Let's not turn back the clock. Chris Christie's record: four balanced budgets, no new taxes for anyone, the best job growth in a decade and the most education funding ever."

It ends as others have with Christie looking out at the Jersey Shore, a topic that has also come under some scrutiny this week as Democrats have cried foul at separate state tourism ads that feature Christie and his family.

Democrats are calling them publicly funded campaign ads, while Christie supporters point out that they are running outside of New Jersey and the company that made the ads said data research showed Christie would be the most effective messenger.

The ad controversy might be getting some heat from Democrats, but he is still beating Buono by a wide margin in recent polls. A poll out earlier this month from NBC News-Marist has Christie up 34 points over Buono, 62 percent to 28 percent.