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Buono Lands GOP Support; Christie Controls Cash

 New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono received her first cross-party endorsement from a Republican mayor Friday, as Gov. Chris Christie showed he would maintain his commanding fundraising lead over the upstart Democrat through the June 4 primary.

State Senator Barbara Buono (Facebook)

Spotswood Mayor Nick Poliseno became the first Republican elected official to endorse Buono. The mayor of the Middlesex County town of 8,300 — who had been a Democrat until switching parties in 2009 — said Christie has failed to deliver on property tax relief.

“The governor talks a big game, but he has failed to deliver results for places like Spotswood, where too many of our friends and neighbors are struggling to make ends meet because of record high property taxes,” he said.

Property tax bills have been rising more slowly since Christie became governor, but taxpayers have also been receiving less in rebates or tax credits than they previously did. The average tax bill last year was $7,885 before credits.

A taxpayer with the state average property tax bill and the average homestead rebate would have paid $7,410 in property taxes last year, nearly 19 percent more than someone in the same situation in 2009 would have paid, even though Christie and the Legislature raised the rebate in both 2011 and last year.

Poliseno said he hadn’t received any calls attempting to talk him out of endorsing Buono, but said he expected that his phone would be ringing after the announcement was made.

Christie has collected endorsements from 14 elected Democrats so far, including Paterson City Council President Anthony Davis, who backed him Monday.

Buono and Christie face only token opposition in the June 4 primary, though Buono continues to struggle to gain traction in a divided Democratic party.

Christie remains far ahead in fundraising and name recognition, and his job approval ratings — which skyrocketed after Superstorm Sandy — remain strong. On Friday, in its final election filing before the primary, Christie’s campaign showed it had banked an additional $337,000, bringing its total to $6.5 million.

Buono’s camp said she’d raised $196,000. Her war chest totals about $2.3 million, including more than $1 million in privately raised money and the rest in public matching funds.

The campaigns have a Friday filing deadline with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. The complete reports will be released publicly next week.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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