Buono Pushes for Increased Minimum Wage at Working Families United Event

July 12, 2013 | Elections, Politics
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono told an audience that the minimum wage needs to increase in New Jersey and Gov. Chris Christie isn't the leader who will do it.

By Dari Kotzker
NJ Today

Sen. Barbara Buono worked the crowd at a minimum wage rally in Passaic, days after a Quinnipiac poll showed Chris Christie not just beating her two-to-one in the governor’s race, but also leading among Latinos and women — voters Buono needs to win. At a kickoff for Working Families United for New Jersey’s “raise the wage” campaign, Buono argued she’s more sensitive to their concerns.

“People are suffering to put food on the table and a roof over their children’s head,” Buono said. “Unfortunately we have a governor who doesn’t think their economic concerns are his concerns. It seems unbelievable but it’s true. And so that’s why we’re here today. We have to stand up, we have to speak out and make sure that we pass this initiative on Nov. 5.”

“The cost of living in this state is 30 percent higher than anywhere else in the national average in the country. But not only that, we have one of the lowest minimum wages,” said Working Families United for New Jersey Chair Charles N. Hall Jr.

New Jersey voters will consider a minimum wage increase on this November’s ballot.

“The stress of trying to provide for my family is a struggle. With so little income, it’s almost broken me. To be blunt, it’s hardly an income you can survive and take care of your family off of,” said minimum wage worker Demetrius Debiase.

Buono got loud applause after speaking, but she’s finding far less enthusiasm in the early polls. She’s championed women’s causes and legislation and rallied for increased funding for women’s health issues. But the recent Quinnipiac poll showed Christie leading Buono among women voters 59 to 30. Even her own party gives Buono only 55 percent — barely more than half. Buono brushed those numbers aside.

“It’s four months before the election and the only poll that counts is the one on election day. And so we’re out there, pounding the pavement, going neighborhood by neighborhood and as we get out there and get our message out to people it’s resonating and I’m sure that the polls will close as people start focusing on this after Labor Day,” Buono said.

Many of the speakers today say they are concerned that with two elections only three weeks apart there will be confusion at the polls, so they’re really trying to emphasize that Nov. 5 is the day to come out and vote on the minimum wage increase.

“This is a very cynical move on the part of the governor, so that’s why we’re having events such as this,” Buono said. “It’s all about grassroots. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but nobody’s gonna outwork us.”

With these poll numbers, Buono still has a lot of work left to do to win in November.