What if we held an election and nobody cared? Part 1, 11th district

In seven weeks New Jersey voters will have the opportunity to elect an entirely new state legislature.

Patrick Murray’s Monmouth University/Neptune Nudniks poll conducted in August indicates that New Jersey voters disapprove of their legislature by a 48%-35% margin.  Democrats disapprove by 45%-38%.  Independents, the majority, disapprove by a whopping 50%-28%.  Surprisingly, Republicans approve of the legislature by a 45%-41% margin.  Public workers disapprove by 55%-26%.

Based solely on those poll results, one might expect that we’d be in the middle of a spirited campaign with Democrats and public workers rallying to throw the Republicans out of office.  Obviously that is not the case.  Democrats control the legislature that their base and Independents disapprove of strongly.

Due to Dr. Alan Rosenthal’s decision that New Jersey voters are better off being continuously represented by legislators they don’t know, there are only a handful of competitive legislative races.  The Democrats will continue to control the legislature for the next two years.  Probably the next ten years.

11th District

The 11th district race is the only local race that is remotely interesting, so far.

There are two reasons that it is interesting. Independent candidate Dan Jacobson is colorful and is wisely using MMM, as well as his own publication to generate interest in his campaign.  Republicans are not happy about this, but MMM has had a long standing policy welcoming voices other than Art Gallagher’s.  Democrats have foolishly ignored the opportunity for years despite Gallagher’s overt invitations.

The other reason that the 11th district race is interesting is that Senator Jennifer Beck made gay marriage an issue.  That’s right, Beck, not Jacobson, not MMM, gave gay marriage prominence in this race.  She did so when she told Gannett columnist Jane Roh that she would change her vote on the issue.

“There are lots of reasons why I ultimately voted no. My position has evolved. I spent a lot of time on this issue, and at the end of the day, I would support it if it came before me.”

The Democrats, jumped on Beck’s curiously timed  “flip-flop.”   She had given them an issue.

The issue heated up again when Beck told Garden State Equality that she would vote to override Governor Christie’s veto of same sex marriage if given the opportunity.  Put on the spot, Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini took the same position with some reluctance.

As a result, Beck and Angelini’s running mate, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, is now in a tough spot.

Casagrande has been, ummm, straight, in how she has responded to the issue.  She could have remained silent and let people continue to assume that she was against gay marriage rather than say she has yet to take a position.   This has resulted in attacks by Jacobson, Olivia Nuzzi and other Democrats who scoff at Casagrande’s insistence that the issue is not simple and that the rights of religious organizations need to be respected as well.

Gay marriage advocates say they have no problem with religious rights being protected and that is no longer a valid reason to withhold support of marriage equality.  While that might be true now, it has not been true in the 11th district’s recent past.  The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association lost the tax exempt status of its Pavilion in 2007 when it refused to allow a lesbian couple have a civil union ceremony there.  The Methodist organization told the couple they could have their ceremony on the boardwalk that is also owned by the group, but not in a structure where religious ceremonies are held.

That compromise wasn’t good enough and the couple complained to the State Division of Civil Rights.  Eventually, Lisa Jackson, Governor Corzine’s DEP Commissioner and now President Obama’s EPA Commissioner, declined to recertify the pavilion’s tax exempt status which the Camp Meeting Assoication had enjoyed under New Jersey’s  Green Acres program.   Reports indicate that the loss of tax exempt status for the structure cost the association about $20,000 per year.

New York’s recently enacted gay marriage law would have protected the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association from the lesbian couple’s complaint and from Jackson’s punitive action had it been law in New Jersey in 2007.   I’d be willing to bet that Jacobson, Nuzzi and the 11th district Democratic candidates did not know that before it reading here.  Garden State Equality was front in center in the 2007 fight against the Camp Meeting Association.  I’ve yet to hear a peep from them about the rights of the religious or the rights of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association in particular with regard to gay marriages now that New York has set a new standard.

While the gay marriage issue is not going away, so long as Chris Christie is governor it is not a practical political issue for a legislative race.  While Democrats are expected to continue their hold on the legislature, there in not enough support from their side of the isle to override a veto.  Garden State Equality blew their chance to get a gay marriage law passed when they agreed to Governor Corzine’s request that they not push the issue until after his re-election race.

The importance of gay marriage to voters in the 11th district depends on who you believe.  Beck told MMM that Garden State Equality told her that there are 10,000 same sex couples in the 11th district.  I would would want to see a list and match it up to the voter registration records before I bought that claim.  There is no historical evidence of such a voting block.

Until I see such a list, I won’t be convinced the issue is as critical to 11th district voters as 6 of the 7 candidates running seem to think it is.  Its the economy and those who are trying to make the campaign about something other than the economy think the voters of the 11th district are stupid.

While all this chatter is fun, it won’t have much of an impact on election day.  Despite a 10,000 voter registration edge for the Democrats, Jacobson and the Democrats expect the Republicans to win a low turnout election by a wide margin.

Coming soon, What if we held an election and nobody cared?  Part 2, 13th district.

Posted: September 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Legislature, Monmouth County, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

8 Comments on “What if we held an election and nobody cared? Part 1, 11th district”

  1. Freespeaker1976 said at 10:02 am on September 26th, 2011:

    Spot On Art!

    This election is about:

    Jobs, Property Taxes, The State’s Budget Woes, Schools, COAH & Anything Economic

    Jobs, Property Taxes, The State’s Budget Woes, Schools, COAH & Anything Economic

    Jobs, Property Taxes, The State’s Budget Woes, Schools, COAH & Anything Economic

    Jobs, Property Taxes, The State’s Budget Woes, Schools, COAH & Anything Economic

    Unless the candidates start talking about those issues, I am inclined to vote for:

    NONE OF THE ABOVE

  2. frustrating.. said at 1:32 pm on September 26th, 2011:

    that this year will likely see people remain home in large numbers..a real low turnout’s expected, with most incumbents getting a reprieve and back in…. with the new legis. districts, most folks don’t even know which one they live in, who their candidates are, nor,apparently, do they care.. with so much media focus on the Pres. race NEXT year, these folks’ll likely get lost in the dust.. from a NJ perspective, it will hurt the Gov. and the Rep.s’ attempt to control at least one house, for a change, so, it’ll likely remain D- controlled..look for many more bills to be passed that attempt to get back into unions’ graces, and basically screw up any attempt to curtail the never-ending spending on programs.. in other words, it’ll still be too annoying and expensive to live in NJ- they can’t/won’t help themselves!

  3. TR said at 8:10 am on September 27th, 2011:

    The funny thing is that the Republicans running in the 11th are actually nervous about this election. Thats why the concern about Jacobsen and the flip flop on the gay thing. I could understand it if the democrats where actually running someone whose name we could remember. Its a shame the Tea party did not run in the primary. They could have won and won the general election because they are the most motivated and organized voters.

  4. Rhymes with stick said at 8:17 am on September 27th, 2011:

    Jen Beck’s flip-flop on gay marriage speaks volumes about her character. She is an unprincipled ______ [rhymes with bore ] that will say anything to get elected. It is precisely because of that reason that I will be voting for Ray Santiago for NJ Senate.

    Oh yeah, Jen Beck is same idiot that sponsored “Kyleigh’s Law,” that law that requires my 17 year-old daughter to put a target … er … red dot on her license plate. Of course, Beck, consistient with her character, is now flip-flopping on that issue as well. No surprise there.

    12th District Legislators Applaud the Signing of Kyleigh’s Law to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

    Beck Disappointed Effort to Repeal Kyleigh’s Law Decals Blocked Again

  5. TR said at 12:39 pm on September 27th, 2011:

    She was also a co-sponsor of the anti-bullying law that is going to cause your proerty taxes to increase.

  6. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » What if we held an election and nobody cared? Part 2, 13th Legislative District said at 8:05 am on September 29th, 2011:

    […] Prelude from Part 1: […]

  7. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » What is we held an election and nobody cared? Part 3, The 12th Legislative District said at 9:53 am on October 5th, 2011:

    […] Part 1.  11th Legislative District […]

  8. Snooki Slept Here. So Did I. - Body Piercing Fan said at 1:46 am on October 8th, 2011:

    […] chief television critic for The New York Times. First published on September 11, 2011 at 12:00 amTHE Jersey Shore did not get the worst of Hurricane Irene, though the storm left its mark. Boarded-u…s of boardwalk provided a jarring tableau of pleasure […]