In governor’s race, University community gives overwhelmingly to underdog Buono| November 4, 2013
Faculty, administrators, staff and researchers affiliated with the University and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory gave largely to New Jersey State Sen. Barbara Buono during the state gubernatorial campaign, which will end with the general election on Tuesday.
As of late September, donors employed by Princeton University had given $4,100 to Buono’s campaign and $1,000 to current Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign, according to the New Jersey’s campaign finance database.
Buono’s top University donors were Princeton University Investment Company President Andrew Golden, computer science professor Andrew Appel and visiting lecturer in civil and environmental engineering Robert Harris, each of whom gave $1,000. Golden’s wife, Carol, donated an additional $8,000 to Buono’s campaign.
Lewis-Sigler Institute software developer Laurie Kramer and physics professor Chiara Nappi donated $600 and $500 to Buono’s campaign, respectively.
As of late October, Buono’s campaign had raised $2.8 million, spending $2.5 million, while Christie’s had raised $13.2 million, spending $9.2 million, NJ.com reported. Both candidates opted to accept public funds and have them matched by the state.
Kramer, who gave to Buono’s campaign last December, said that she and her husband decided to donate because they are Democrats and because they know Buono personally through Buono's husband, Martin Gizzi.
“She’s one of the nicest people I know, and I think she would be a much better governor [than Christie],” Kramer said. “She wouldn’t be campaigning for the presidency as I think Christie’s going to do for the next several years. She cares more about the middle class than Christie does.”
Kramer added that she and her husband “were not fond” of Christie. “We don’t think he’s the man he pretends to be.”
Chiara Nappi explained that she has donated to many Democratic candidates over time, including candidates for local and national office. When asked if there was anything in particular that struck her about Buono, Nappi noted that Buono “had the guts to run against Christie.”
Nappi explained that she favors Buono and other Democratic candidates because of their views on increasing the minimum wage and promoting policies that support the working class.
“I believe that people have rights. People who work should make a living and be able to live in a dignified way [off] of their wages. I believe they are entitled to health care,” she said. “All these kind of things that Republicans don’t support, I support it. For me, Christie is on the wrong side of the divide between the good people and the bad people.”
Though employees of the University have historically donated to Democratic candidates, including President Barack Obama and Representative Rush Holt, some affiliated with the PPPL gave to Christie’s reelection effort.
PPPL Deputy Director for Operations Adam Cohen and PPPL staff accountant Helen Wojtenko each donated $500 to Christie’s campaign.
Cohen said that though he is a Democrat, he thinks that Christie has “been a very good governor for the state.” He explained that he particularly approved of Christie’s response to Hurricane Sandy.
“I think that going forward, someone who cares that much about the state of New Jersey and is open to ideas about how to implement specific things that he wants to pursue is the type of governor that we want,” he explained.
Cohen, who donated in April, said that he has not given to the campaign since then because he feels that the campaign is drawing on other sources of revenue.
“[Christie] clearly has a whole war chest of funds coming in, and everything I hear is that he’s far and away the leader in terms of the campaign,” Cohen explained. “I’m predicting him to win by a landslide.”
Christie leads Buono in the race by 19 points, according to a poll taken between Oct. 24 and Oct. 30 by Fairleigh Dickinson.