Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Woos Latinos with Paterson Office

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Woos Latinos with Paterson Office

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- Governor Christie opened a bilingual campaign office in the heart of the city's downtown on Thursday night -- his latest effort to reach out to Latino voters, a traditional Democratic constituency.

Christie comfortably leads his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono, in fundraising and in polls, and has secured the endorsement of more than 30 elected Democrats. On Thursday, he unveiled his "Hispanics for Christie" coalition.

"People that live in the cities and in the suburbs, African- Americans, Latinos, Asians, Caucasians -- everybody who cares about this state and making it better -- is coming together for this race," he said.

The new office on Mill Street, which also supports the Republican nominee for Passaic County sheriff, Frank Feenan, and GOP candidates for the state Senate and Assembly, is one of more than 20 "Republican Victory" offices across the state funded in part by the Republican National Committee.

Christie held his first town hall-style event in the Silk City in March and returned in May to accept the endorsement of Councilman Anthony Davis. He has joked that he lost Paterson to Gov. Jon Corzine by more than 15,000 votes in 2009 even though his campaign had a phone bank in the city. But he said Passaic County has had Republican elected leaders in the past and it can again.

"Passaic County is a swing county, so if we work hard together, we're going to win on Nov. 5," he said.

Bilingual staff members and volunteers will work the phones in Paterson and other sites, reaching out to key Latino constituencies. Antonio Hernandez, president of the National Coalition of Latino Officers and the Passaic County chairman of Hispanics for Christie, said Christie spoke to Latino organizations even before he became governor.

"Chris Christie has not stopped trying to reach out to the Latino community, which I feel was very smart on his part," he said.

Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, said Christie is making a strategic move by wooing Hispanic voters, whom Republican candidates tend to write off, expecting them to support Democrats. …

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