Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Relative Unknowns Take Spotlight

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Relative Unknowns Take Spotlight

Article excerpt

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno strongly supported Governor Christie's appearance in television advertisements to promote the state's recovery from Superstorm Sandy, one of several full-throated defenses of her running mate during a debate Friday.

"The face of the storm, no matter what side of the aisle you're on, was Governor Christie," Guadagno said. "I congratulate Governor Christie for being in those commercials."

Her opponent, Democrat Milly Silva, said Christie's appearance was inappropriate. "We would have preferred to see the faces of men and women who are small-business owners" in the nationwide ad campaign, Silva said.

Guadagno has held the state's No. 2 job for nearly four years, frequently taking the reins of New Jersey government when Christie travels out of state.

Even on Friday night, as she walked onstage for her first and only debate of the gubernatorial campaign, she was officially the Garden State's acting governor. Christie, the celebrity governor who typically overshadows his lieutenant, was in Washington, D.C., to accept an award.

But Guadagno remains largely unknown; a poll last week found 70 percent of likely voters have no opinion of her.

Guadagno had a chance to make herself better known Friday at Kean University in a debate with Silva, the Democratic candidate running alongside state Sen. Barbara Buono.

They both held to their party lines, with Guadagno telling the audience that Christie has controlled property taxes and put more money into higher education, and Silva arguing that Buono would be a friend to New Jersey's poor and middle class.

But they weren't afraid to go on the attack.

When Silva criticized the Christie administration for spending millions on Superstorm Sandy recovery advertisements that featured the governor himself, Guadagno strongly defended him.

"I'm in charge of the office of tourism, and I understand how well those ads went over," she said.

The debate was an unusual chance to hear directly from Guadagno, who typically stands behind Christie in news conferences or quietly meets with business groups around the state. But it shed little light on how she would lead the state if she became governor. …

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