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Buono's uphill battle

Running in a celebrity's shadow

I don't know what's in New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono's heart, but I bet the purportedly liberal media is giving this liberal Middlesex County Democrat agita.

Headlines such as "Chris Christie would probably beat George Washington, expert says" may be melodramatic -- this one's from the website of NJ 101.5, a radio station not known for nuances -- but they are hardly atypical.

Compare the "Washington" banner to the gloomy headline on the Star-Ledger's recent tale "Buono's money woes threaten campaign." Or to PolitickerNJ's "Buono Campaign Releases Interactive Website Highlighting Christie's Costly Property Tax Policies" (more on that story in a moment), which reads like an invitation to zzz-ville.

As my astute colleague Matt Katz wrote in Sunday's Inquirer, New Jersey's incumbent Republican governor has become a "politico-celeb." Christie blazes high above merely mortal politicians; he's an entire constellation in a firmament far starrier than that of any other New Jerseyan save Springsteen.

And even the man's struggles with weight, which the Christie media politbureau had until recently decreed as  off-limits to civilized scribes, are being incorporated into a triumphalist, re-ascension to Trenton narrative culminating in "Governor wins by losing" headlines.

Which brings us back to Buono, whose launch of the aforementioned "interactive website" got somewhat lost in the frenzy about Christie's stealth lap-band surgery.

The price tag site displays typical property tax increases for New Jersey homeowners, by municipality, between 2009 and 2012. It's clever and a bit gimmicky, but effective.

Whether it's effective enough for a challenger who suppposedly has a better shot at defeating the Father of Our Country is another question.