By Max Pizarro
EAST ORANGE - The pair are apparent Democratic Primary antagonists in the U.S. Senate race.
But Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) this afternoon shielded Newark Mayor Cory Booker from having to answer a question about whether or not he supports a state Supreme Court appeal to move the U.S. Senate election to occur on the same day as the November general election.
"This issue has been developing in our state capitol for years," said Oliver, standing at a lectern with Booker, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18) and Assemblyman Tom Giblin (D-34), referring to her advocacy for a minimum wage hike, which will appear as a referendum question on the November ballot.
PolitickerNJ.com asked Booker if he believed he could be a more effective champion of the referendum question if the general election for the U.S. Senate concurred with the gubernatorial election in November.
Oliver stepped in to double down on the import of the issue and expressed her confidence that people will vote for it regardless of when the Senate race takes place.
Seventy-seven percent of New Jersey residents supports raising the minimum wage, she said.
Others at the press conference voiced doubt - or at least concern - about the strength under current circumstances for the ballot question to convincingly pass.
"We have to educate the people about how important it is to vote in the general (November) election," said Giblin, who thanked Oliver for showing leadership in advancing the issue.
Christie vetoed the speaker's mimimum wage hike when it went to his desk.
Also running in the U.S. Senate Primary as a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) said last week in a statement that he backs Somerset County Democratic Committee Chair Peg Shaffer's efforts to reverse Gov. Chris Christie's decision about scheduling the U.S. Senate special in October, separate from the gubernatorial election, in the name of taxpayer savings.
A reporter asked the group if they thought they could be effective championing the minimum wage given all the party in-fighting that has dogged Democrats.
"Democrats will always be the party that best represents these values," Oliver said.
"At the end of the day, there is much more that unites us than divides us," Buono added.