|The Great Seal of the State of New Jersey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
It’s 8:35 a.m., and I’m naked in Barbara Buono’s bathroom. If you haven’t heard of Barbara Buono, don’t worry—you are not alone. Buono is the Democratic nominee for governor of New Jersey, but she is being almost comically overshadowed by her Republican opponent, Chris Christie—the savvily obnoxious, wildly popular governor who in several weeks is expected to annihilate Buono at the polls by 20 points or more, and then, presumably, focus on running for president in 2016.
So what am I doing naked in the guest bathroom of a gubernatorial candidate? (The bathroom, like the rest of her home, is tasteful, if unremarkable: butterfly prints on the wall, a boombox on the sink.) A few days earlier I had interviewed Buono for the first time. Having heard that the 60-year-old state senator kept up a rigorous exercise routine, I asked if I could go jogging with her. Rather than demur or laugh it off, she agreed without hesitation. And so, on a muggy Tuesday morning in late August, we ran five miles near Buono’s Metuchen, New Jersey, house—for the record, she is in fantastic shape—and afterward I asked if I could wash my face. Hospitably she told me to go ahead and take a shower.
It’s possible that, in agreeing to run with me—to say nothing of letting me bathe in her home—Buono was just being a good sport and humoring a pain-in-the-ass reporter, but she may also have had other incentives. One is that her opponent is famously obese, and going on a run with a reporter may have struck her as an easy-enough opportunity to highlight their contrasting levels of physical fitness. (In the interest of balance, I asked Christie’s press secretary, Kevin Roberts, if the governor might be up for a jog. “We’ll have to see what the schedule looks like,” Roberts replied.) But the more likely explanation, I think, is the simpler one, and it’s also probably the reason Buono was willing to let me spend so much time with her over the course of several days last month: at this point, she needs just about any kind of media attention she can get.
The rest of the story.