(CNN) - Democrats are rallying around a candidate to try to unseat New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie this November.
"Barbara Buono understands the challenges facing New Jersey's middle-class families because she's lived through them. That's why she's spent her entire career fighting to create jobs, improve education, expand access to quality health care, and balance budgets," said Shumlin in a statement.
The 59-year old state senator is the only major Democrat to announce a candidacy for governor. As of the beginning of this week, all other big name Democrats who flirted with bids had decided against running, with Buono winning endorsements from many of her possible rivals.
"After failing to recruit their first, second, third or fourth choice candidates into the campaign for governor, Democrats have finally settled on state senator Barbara Buono," said Republican Governors Association communications director Mike Schrimpf, in a statement.
With just over nine months to go until New Jersey's gubernatorial election, polls indicate that the first term Republican governor is the overwhelming favorite over Buono. According to a Quinnipiac University survey of Garden State voters conducted Jan. 15-21, Christie leads his Democratic challenger 63%-22%.
The tough talking Christie saw his poll numbers skyrocket following his very active and public response to Hurricane Sandy, which slammed into the northeast in late October, severely damaging parts of New Jersey.
Christie also vastly out fundraised Buono late last year. With two of the nation's most expensive media markets – New York City and Philadelphia – dominating the state, campaign cash matters a great deal in New Jersey, which along with Virginia, are the only two states to hold gubernatorial contests in the year after a presidential election.