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Business groups wary of Buono's expected running mate

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Gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono's expected selection of a female union leader as running mate has drawn ire from business groups, who argue the Democratic ticket's policy positions don't bode well for the state's commercial interests.

Though not formally announced, The Star-Ledger reported Buono has selected Milly Silva, vice president of SEIU 1199, which represents about 7,000 nursing home employees statewide, as her choice for lieutenant governor in the campaign against Republican incumbent Chris Christie.

The New Jersey chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business said it is disappointed in the anticipated selection of Silva, which it described as putting political ideology ahead of business needs.

"This is an unmistakable message to small business in New Jersey that big labor is going to have the run of the Statehouse," the New Jersey chapter of NFIB said in a brief statement via e-mail. "Silva is a longtime union organizer and president of the SEIU Local 1199 — the organization is one of the most ideological political forces within the union movement, and has led fights in every state and in Washington, D.C., for policies that concern small-business owners."

Laurie Ehlbeck, director of the state's NFIB chapter, said the organization would be releasing a full statement Monday when the formal announcement of Silva's selection is expected.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, which says it doesn't endorse candidates but advocates policies friendly to business, said it's concerned that picking Silva reinforces positions adopted by Buono that the chamber opposes, such amending the constitution to raise the minimum wage, mandatory sick leave, and other polices.

"When you take all that into consideration, Buone now has a lieutenant governor candidate known for being very pro-labor," said Michael Egenton, senior vice president of government relations for the chamber. "We have concerns about the lieutenant governor candidate in tandem with the governor. The track record doesn't leave a positive feeling.'

The selection of Silva, a 43-year old Montclair resident, would mark the first all-women gubernatorial ticket since New Jersey added the lieutenant governor position in 2009. The expected nomination has drawn praise from Democrats, who call it a bold choice, while derided by Christie administration officials who say Silva is unqualified to be governor.

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