One almost has to feel sorry for Barbara Buono, New Jersey's Democratic candidate for governor. Already she is up against a Republican incumbent so popular that pollsters are more interested in whether he would win the Presidency in 2016 than in whether Buono has any chance of taking the governorship from him. Yet she feels that her unfair deal has been compromised further by a cheating opponent, and there is almost merit to her claim.
A significant part of Governor Chris Christie's popularity arises from his handling of the emergency created by Hurricane Sandy last year, time in which he was seen touring the area with President Obama and during which his government managed recovery so effectively that many democrats have endorsed his re-election bid. Even now he appears regularly in television ads encouraging vacationers to visit the New Jersey shore, in the "Stronger Than the Storm" campaign. Since the New Jersey shore's major business is what is called tourism (although the beach is the main attraction), it is perfectly reasonable that some of the recovery money should be spent to stimulate the economy by bringing the tourists back to the beach. Having Christie in them gives them force and credibility. In a sense, he should be in those ads, as part of the rebuilding and revitalization of the shore communities.
Yet this is a problem for Barbara Buono. Already she is fighting a losing battle. Already she suffers shortfalls against her opponent in name recognition, financial support, political endorsements, and favorability ratings. Now on top of all this, taxpayer money is paying to put Chris Christie's image on television, keeping the voters aware of his hands-on approach to repairing the damage from the storm. That's not the way campaigns are supposed to work; the incumbent is not supposed to be able to use the power of his office to promote his image in a re-election campaign. Buono wants something done about this. Make the Christie campaign pay for the advertising, or give her equal time, or somehow rectify the imbalance in promotional ability that the governor has, in her view, unfairly used against her.
Unfortunately for Buono, this is how these things work. New Jersey governors always have used their official position as a means of reaching the voters. At every major entry to this state there is, and for as long as I have been alive has always been, a sign welcoming visitors in the name (and often with the picture) of its governor. Would she like all those signs to be changed to read, "Welcome to New Jersey, from its Governor Chris Christie, and the Democratic candidate who hopes to replace him in Novemeber's election, Barbara Buono"? She won't get that. These imbalances are part of why it is difficult to run against an incumbent, and perhaps part of why all the credible democrats--Mayor Booker, Congressman Pallone, and Senator Menendez among them--declined to run against him. The incumbent is news; the work the incumbent is doing to promote the recovery at the shore is logically part of his job. It is unfair; get over it. Make yourself newsworthy by doing something other than complaining that the governor is doing his job in a way you don't like.