By Brenda Flanagan
“I have an offer New Jersey voters can’t refuse.”
Heads-up, voters here in the Soprano State. Republicans say they plan to whack the Democratic majority, regain control of the Assembly and lower your taxes, according to Majority Leader Jon Bramnick.
“The Republicans standing behind me are prepared to take on that responsibility and do the job that wasn’t done during the past 10 years,” Bramnick said.
Bramnick’s more diverse party includes Burlington County candidate Maria Rodriguez Gregg — also known as “Honeybee.”
The Latina mother of two — a roller derby star on a team called the “Dishonor Roll” — is pursuing a college degree.
“I’m very happy that she is running,” Bramnick said. “It’s very important to me that we have diverse candidates and I think you’re gonna see the New Jersey Republican Party continue to expand.”
Another Republican candidate — Steve Cook — is one of few openly gay politicians in New Jersey, running in Hamilton. And 24-year-old John Campbell’s representing the GOP in Plainfield.
“I’m a fiscal conservative,” Campbell said. “As far as my political ideology’s concerned, I align myself with Republicans.”
Of course, the biggest weapon in the Republican’s arsenal is Gov. Chris Christie — very popular with voters right now. The GOP hopes to hitch a ride on his coattails.
Democrats say — bring it on.
“The bottom line is, voters in the state are gonna make decisions locally about who they think’s best going to be on their side — and we know that’s going to be Democrats in the tough districts,” said Mike Muller, a consultant organizing the Democrats’ legislative campaign strategy. He says Christie’s support doesn’t automatically guarantee success, and controversial social issues like gun control could derail Republican candidates.
“Using gun control as a particular issue, there’s a number of these candidates that are going to be running on the Republican side that — frankly if they stay in lock step with the governor on these issues — are going to be in a very bad position,” Muller said.
Part of the Republican strategy — brand opponents Corzine Democrats, after a very unpopular governor. The GOP needs to pick up eight seats to take back the Assembly. Right now, Democrats hold a 48 to 32 seat majority. Hotly contested seats include Districts One and Two in South Jersey; District Seven in Burlington County; and the 38th, in Bergen County. But all 120 legislative seats — and the governor’s office — are in play this November.