(CNN) – New Jersey State Democratic Sen. Barbara Buono, who is challenging Gov. Chris Christie in his bid for re-election, tapped a local labor boss as her running mate Monday.
Buono's pick, Milly Silva, acts as the executive vice president for New Jersey of the 1199 Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers East. In that role she represents 7,000 long term healthcare workers, including nursing home employees and home health aides.
A graduate of Columbia, Silva was raised in the Bronx by a single mother who was born in Puerto Rico. Her selection as Buono's running mate on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket comes as national Republicans grapple with how best to appeal to Hispanic and female voters.
Buono's campaign said that with the addition of Silva, their ticket is only the third all-female pairing from a major party to run in American history.
The latest polling in New Jersey's governor's race showed Christie with a sizeable 32-point lead over Buono. The Quinnipiac University survey, taken July 2-7, showed the incumbent Republican at 61% among registered voters, while Buono stood at 29%.
New Jersey and Virginia are the only states holding gubernatorial elections this year.