Buono Introduces Labor Leader as Running Mate

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono introduced her running mate Monday, a labor organizer with a similar life story and policy positions that enable the campaign to shape a thematic attack on Gov. Chris Christie.

The all-female ticket of Buono and Milly Silva is a first for New Jersey and the third nationwide.

Silva, 43, is executive vice president of SEIU 1199, a private union representing 8,000 home health aides and nursing home workers. She wasted no time attacking her new opponent, claiming Christie’s policies favor the wealthy at the expense of the middle and working classes. It’s a theme Buono has hit repeatedly in her struggling campaign against the popular Republican.

“We live in a New Jersey where whatever Chris Christie says goes,” Silva said in her first speech as candidate. “That’s not a leader. That’s a bully.”

The addition of Silva to the ticket comes with a ready-made network of labor support and fundraising, which the campaign desperately needs. Buono had raised less than half the money that Christie had through a reporting deadline last month. Her total included public funds from a state matching program.

“The sky’s the limit,” said union President George Gresham. “We have the largest political action fund of all the labor unions in the country.”

The Christie campaign criticized the selection as a politically motivated calculation.