Why Kerry Washington Got Involved in the New Jersey Governor's Race

The 'Scandal' star attended a campaign rally Sunday.

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Actress Kerry Washington speaks at an event for Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J.

Though "Scandal" star Kerry Washington has long been involved in Democratic politics, it was curious that she lent her celebrity to help out Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, who, on last polling, was down 24 points to the incumbent, Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

[POLL: Christie Dominating N.J. Governor’s Race ]

But Washington explained that she came out to a campaign rally Sunday, at Montclair State University in New Jersey, because of a family connection. Buono's running mate is Washington's cousin.

"As many of you know, particularly there's been a lot of talk about it lately, I'm very private about my personal life...but I made an exception for this campaign," Washington said. "There's a woman named Milly Silva, who is family to me, and I love her very much, she is my cousin and she is a woman who I look up to in so many ways."

 

Washington explained their backstory. The actress met Silva at age 12 and, eight years later, the candidate began dating Washington's cousin. Now the two are married.

"I want the state of New Jersey to be able to receive that love and generosity the way our family has," Washington cooed.

Washington, who plays Olivia Pope on the hit ABC show "Scandal," tried to downplay her star power. "I'm not coming to the table as a celebrity, I'm coming to the table as someone who understands that I only have the rights that I have because people have fought very hard for me to have those rights," she said.

[READ: How a PR Maven Turned ‘Scandal’ into a Television Success]

But both Silva, running for lieutenant governor, and Buono, running for governor, touted it. "For the gladiators in the house, Olivia Pope is indeed as amazing as they say, but I have to say that my cousin Kerry Washington is even better," Silva said.

"Chris Christie can have the 'Cake Boss,' but I've got the gladiator," Buono cheered. "She is not only a fabulous actress, but she has been leading a whole new generation of young Democrats forward and we need to thank her for that."

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