(CNN) – New Jersey Democrat and gubernatorial hopeful Barbara Buono released a new web video Monday–but it's not the ad getting the most attention in the Garden State these days.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie is taking heat for his role in a new tourism ad for his state following the devastating impact of Superstorm Sandy.
The television commercial, released last week, is part of a $25 million tourism campaign using federal funds to promote the Jersey Shore this summer.
So what's the problem?
Christie, who's running for re-election this year, makes a cameo in the 30-second spot, prompting some critics to say the potential 2016 presidential contender is using federal taxpayer dollars to boost his political image.
After Congress delayed sending tens of billions in relief aid to Northeastern states at the beginning of this year, Christie went on a blistering critique of Washington lawmakers during a now-famous press conference.
"We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans," he said, adding politics was trumping the needs of U.S. citizens. "For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch."
The Star-Ledger in New Jersey noted in a biting editorial Sunday that it's not the people who are most bouncing back from the story who get to star in the tourism ad–it's the state's governor, who already gets plenty of air time and positive ratings as the public face of state recovery efforts.
"(It's) not the small business owners working to get back on their feet. Not shore residents trying to rebuild, or their kids," the editorial stated. "Not even celebrities, as in the 'Fall in Love with Louisiana All Over Again ad campaign after Hurricane Katrina, which featured local stars who participated for free. Were Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi simply unavailable?"
Christie may face more questions Monday when he makes a media appearance on the Lavallette Boardwalk.
The governor and his family appear in the ad for about five seconds at the end, as they sit on the shore and declare the state is "stronger than the storm."
Christie has argued in defense that "there's nothing political about the ads" and his aides point out that the commercials won't even be running in New Jersey itself, according to the Star Ledger.
But the editorial asked that "given Christie's presidential ambitions, is it any surprise that he'd use federal relief dollars to splash his face all over TV in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Canada – in addition to ads in print, on the radio and Internet?"
Colin Reed, a spokesman for the governor, told CNN the move was a creative decision by the Stronger Than The Storm campaign to include Christie and his wife in the ad.
"They are in a uniquely qualified position to tell a very wide audience beyond New Jersey that our state and our Shore is open for business," he said.
Christie saw a surge in his poll numbers during the aftermath of the storm, a popularity that he's maintained in the last six months.
Recent surveys also indicate the governor has a strong advantage over his Democratic opponent in this year's gubernatorial race.
In Buono's new web ad, the state senator takes a light-hearted approach in telling voters how to say her often-mispronounced name. She has been vastly outspent by Christie in ads.
Don't like Christie but this is much ado about nothing. The Governor of a state should be it's biggest (no pun intended) booster. There was a series of tourism commercials in California that featured celebrities along side Arnold and Maria when they were in the Governor's Mansion.
I don't get the big deal – Then Governor Schwarzenegger did it for the longest time. It's amazing how people have amnesia or selective memory.
As Governor, he has responsibility to increase revenue in his state! This is not the first time Governors or Mayors have helped promote tourism. As a travel industry veteran, I don't see the issue of politics being that important.
There will always be people that disagree with something and will go to the ends of the world to find something to argue in disagreement. Maybe Christie should have appeared for 4 seconds instead of 5 seconds? Can't win! I've always said, "If the government said they would pay all your bills but you had to wait in line every Sunday for one hour to get your money, somebody would say, 'Can't you change the day to Monday?'". Hey, maybe Christie would do a good job as President. Interesting thought isn't it?
Govs usually help to promote tourism and after Sandy hit NJ, Christie has every obligation to try and bring tourism back to his state – says this Dem.
Already campaigning against Christie, huh CNN?
Much ado over nothing. He's very popular in NJ, really took a non-partisan leadership role (how refreshing) during Sandy nightmare. Only people griping are the hyper partisan who fear his popularity.
I’m away liberal and i say, leave the guy alone. He’s just trying to bring back tourisn after this tragedy to my home state. Lay off!
Despite claims to the contrary in the piece above, the commercial has played several times in NJ via the NY networks stations received here. As a NJ resident, I too finding it appalling that Federal storm dollars were spent on the ad.
As the governor of his state, he ought to be boosting toursim. I have no problem whatsoever with Christie appearing in an ad to help rebuild the tourism industry there, and there is nothing in the ad which states " Vote for me". He is on camera long enough to deliver the tag line.
There's no there there. He's the Governor. Part of his job is promoting his state. This commercial is to bring people to NJ. If he uses he recent popularity to promote the state, who is to complain? Not me.
OK, I'm a pretty firm Liberal and definitely not a Christie fan, but this is kind of silly. He's the Governor of the state and he shows up (very briefly) to tell you to visit the state he runs. This is pretty much advertising 101.
Just as long as he doesn't appear in a bathing suit, I have no problem with his appearance in the commercial.
Really.Insane bs. He's the governor. Have we become this picky?
You have GOT to be kidding me! One always sees various states' governors appearing in tourism ads. This is a FIVE SECOND SPOT - NOT A POLITICAL SPEECH. Oh, and I am a Democrat. Some people need to get the perpetual hate out of their systems. Sheesh...
It's a silly point. The man was in the media spotlight when he battles congress for aid money and became a nationally notable figure for lambasting his own party for dragging its feet and committing the sin of commending Obama for his performance...not to mention he's fat and looks funny. So in the end a Gov that doesn't strictly tout the party line (and is huge) is part of the attraction.
Folks, it's his job to promote the state, particularly after a disaster as broadreaching as Sandy. This whole "controversy" is ridiculous.
Tempest in a tea pot.
Christie is a bigoted pig. And an incompetent governor. I certainly hope he doesn't represent what the people of New Jersey are like.
Cuomo does it. President Obama did it. Lots of politicians do it. Hard to control.
I can't believe this. Christie is criticized for trying to help his state. This Independent voter loves Christie and I hope he runs in 2016.
Barry Obama, NJ, US
Rudy NYC, it is only sensible to use the recovery funds on a tourism marketing campaign. it is such BS, such a red herring, for people to suggest that this is a misallocation of federal dollars.
The message from Christie in the ad is pretty clear. Come see what I have done to help new Jersey. Ads like that should be coming directly out of Christie's pocket, not federal tax dollars. And why are we spending federal tax dollars to promote tourism in New Jersey, anyway?
Just more petty liberals and Democrats trying to damage Christie because he might run for President in 2016. A pure partisan political attack with no merit whatsoever. Nothing new to see here. Move along.
Christie is the best cheerleader NJ has and he should be out there pushing it. Why not? He was front and center during Hurricane Sandy and should stay there. In my state of Illinois, Pat Quinn shoudl just stay in hiding.
another no there there moment. christie did what he should, he stepped up to the plate and promoted tourism in his state. he is to be commended, not whined about