Part 1. 11th Legislative District
Prelude from Part 1:
In seven five 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.
Now that Governor Christie has put an end to the presidential speculation and passionately reitierated his commitment to fixing our broken state, one might think that an election with every seat in the legislature up for grabs coming up in five weeks would be an opportunity for Christie to foward his fixes by picking up support in the legislature. Christie’s poll numbers are surging in New Jersey. An FDU poll last week indicated that 54% of New Jersey voters approve of the job he is doing. FDU also indicated that 47% of New Jersey voters disapprove of President Obama’s performance, down from dramatically from a May poll after Bin Laden was killed that indicated 56% of New Jerseyans approved of Obama.
Yet Christie apparently doesn’t see an opportunity. During the Q&A of his press conference yesterday the Governor said that he doesn’t see the upcoming legislative election as a referendum on his performance “given the map.” Once again the conventional wisdom is that the only vote that really mattered in this legislative election, and the next four, was the vote that Dr. Alan Rosenthal cast as the tie breaking member of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission adapting the Democratic gerrymandered map that assured “continuity of representation.”
Now that Christie is focused only on New Jersey maybe he will launched an unexpected campaign to defy conventional wisdom and the Rosenthal/Democratic map. During his fund raising trip last week the New Jersey GOP was one of the beneficiaries of his efforts. Christie has moved the electorate in unexpected ways previously. During the 2010 school board elections he called for New Jersey to defeat school budgets in towns where teachers would not agree to contribute to their healthcare. Could that be done in a legislative general election against a gerrymandered map? Its wishful thinking on my part. I would love to see him try it but would be more surprised if he did than if he didn’t.
12th Legislative District
Like the 11th and 13th districts, the 12th has more registered Democratic voters than Republicans, according to Labels and Lists. The district is compromised of the northern part of Burlington County (6,448 registered voters), Old Bridge in MiddlesexCounty (34,626 registered voters) Western Monmouth County (43,861 registered voters) and the Ocean County towns of Jackson and Plumsted (36,656 registered voters).
Despite a voter registration edge for the Democrats, 29,702 to 27,482 Republicans and 64,407 Independents, the district is considered among the safest of Republican districts. On the September 14 Real Jersey Guys Radio Show political strategist Chris Kniesler called the district “deep red.”
The Republicans expected to cruise to victory on November 8th are Assemblyman Sam Thompson, Old Bridge in the old 13th district ,who is running for Senate, Assemblyman Rondal Dancer, Plumsted of the old 30th district, and Monmouth County Freeholder Director Rob Clifton, Matawan, running for Assembly.
I honestly didn’t know that names of the Democratic Assembly candidates before reading The Asbury ParkPress’s write up on the district. They are Catherine Tinney Rome and William Spedding. The Asbury Park Press didn’t say where they are from.
The Democratic Senate candidate is Robert Brown of Old Bridge. Politikernj describes Brown as a “veteran loser.” He ran against Thompson for Assembly in the old 13th in 2007 and in 2009. In 07 his running mate was Middletown’s Patricia Walsh. In 09 he ran with Middletown’s Jim Grenefage.
While Brown doesn’t stand a chance against Thompson, he is providing some comic entertainment to the campaign. He has forsaken his liberal Democratic bonafides and is attempting to run to the right of Thompson. He has a Republicans for Brown website and has attempted to use twitter to bait this website and Save Jersey into supporting his candidacy.
Brown wants the campaign to be about Thompson’s state pension. He contends Thompson, 76 years old, is “double-dipping” because he is collecting his legislative salary and the pension he receives as a result of working for state health department for 22 years and the NJ Turnpike Authority for 3 years. Brown says he will give up his $14K per year police disablity pension if elected to the Senate where he would earn a $49K salary. He says Thompson should give up his $49K pension. Thompson says he won’t.
Brown collects a disablity pension as the result of an 1981 incident where he was shot in his hand and shoulder. He killed the perp who shot him. Brown recovered from his wounds and went back to work with the Old Bridge Police Department for five years when he requested a disability pension due to lingering physical and psychological disabilities. He finally retired from the Old Bridge PD in 1988, seven years after the shooting, and litigated his pension for another 11 years before prevailing in the NJ Superior Court Appellate Division.
In response to Brown’s numerous tweets trying to bait me into his nonsense, I tweeted back that he must not have recovered from his psychological disablities because he is crazy if he thinks I am going to help him get elected. I have no doubt that if Brown were a Senator he would recover his Democratic roots and do whatever Steve Sweeney told him to do.
While Brown wants the election to be about Thompson’s pension and his own heroism which he has been trying to parlay into a political career for years, The Asbury Park Press decided the campaign is about the horse racing industry.
In reality, unless something very unexpected happens, the 12th district race is a campaign about nothing as the Republicans will win a low turnout election easily with no credible opposition.