• New Jersey State Senator Barbara Buono, of legislative district 18, is photographed in her Metuchen home on February 18, 2013. New Jersey’s first woman to be State Senate Majority Leader, Buono is running to be the next governor of New Jersey. (Andy Jacobsohn/The Daily Beast)

    The Anti-Christie

    Chris Christie casts a big political shadow—but one Democrat has stepped up to try to take him down a peg. David Freedlander reports.

    Last week was not a good one for Barbara Buono. The longtime state lawmaker had the week before become the only Democrat in New Jersey with the temerity—or the lack of a sense of self-preservation—to jump into the governor’s race against Chris Christie, he of the gargantuan girth, larger mouth, and still larger approval rating. On Tuesday, a Monmouth University poll put her 42 points down. More worrisome, nearly two thirds of Garden State voters said that Christie deserved a second term. He had just appeared on Late Night With David Letterman wolfing down doughnuts. A couple of unions had already endorsed the governor, and some Democratic leaders in the state signaled that they were about to do the same. On Wednesday, Christie was feted at the Silicon Valley home of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and was fending off questions from the Trenton press corps about whether or not his reelection campaign amounted to a coronation.

    Then on Monday night, the SUV Buono was riding in made an ill-advised right turn and was slammed into by a Ford Escape; Buono was sitting in the back without a seatbelt, and ended up going to the hospital for a laceration above her right eye. The incident was a reminder of a car accident that former governor Jon Corzine had been in five years before, one that laid him up for several weeks and set him on the downward trajectory that would reach its nadir when he lost to the then little-known U.S. Attorney Christie in 2009.