Christie's Dem challenger hits him on gay rights

Barbara Buono has struggled to gain momentum in the face of Christie's overwhelming popularity

By Jillian Rayfield

Published April 8, 2013 1:21PM (EDT)

Democrat Barbara Buono has found one way to possibly cut into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's reelection prospects: hit him on gay rights.

Buono, a state senator, has had a tough time gaining any momentum in the race, with Christie enjoying overwhelming popularity that has sustained since Hurricane Sandy. But gay rights pose a tricky problem for the Republican governor. For example, Christie had to scramble to clarify his opposition to gay conversion therapy after commenting that “I’m of two minds just on this stuff in general." Buono called the remark "disgusting," while the DGA fundraised off of it.

From the Star-Ledger:

Few expect the election to turn on gay rights. But perhaps more than any issue, it has thrown Gov. Chris Christie off kilter, forcing him to grasp for a delicate balance between appealing to New Jersey voters who overwhelmingly support gay marriage (64 percent in the most recent poll) and rock-ribbed conservatives in Iowa and New Hampshire, who Christie will need to win over if he runs for president in 2016.

A recent poll by Quinnipiac University showed that Christie enjoys a 70 percent approval rating. Buono is still widely unknown, with 79 percent of voters saying they don't know enough about her.

The same poll showed that 64 percent of New Jersey voters support gay marriage.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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2013 Elections Barbara Buono Chris Christie Democrats New Jersey