A little more than a week ago, LD16 GOP incumbents Jack Ciattarelli and Donna Simon sent out a mail piece pandering to hard-core Republicans for whom the word “liberal” is a dirty word, and saddling their Democratic challengers with the POTUS and former Secretary Clinton. That’s the kind of thing that might work for the most blankly partisan sector of their base, but does nothing to make the case that they should get to keep their Assembly jobs to persuadable voters or to the vast swath of unaffiliated voters in LD16.
The shot of Maureen Vella, attorney and former judge, makes her look confused. She’s not. The Zwicker photo is out-of-date and makes him look like a hippie. He’s a physicist and chief of Science Education at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The whole piece smells of desperation and overreach, heavy on what’s meant to be unflattering characterizations, and light on what Ciatterelli & Simon have a hard time defending these days.
7 days ago, the mailer attracted Max Pizarro’s attention.
6 days ago, Adam Steinberg wrote this on the impact a Democratic win would have on Chris Christie: “A Republican Assembly loss in a “safe” GOP legislative district, such as the 16th would so damage Christie politically as to result in a major loss of any control he has over the legislative agenda.”
3 days ago, in Politicker’s Winners and Losers, LD16’s GOP Sen. Kip Bateman’s flip to join the override of Christie’s gun legislation veto, coupled with that GOP mail piece plus air support from Cory Booker, was enough to put Zwicker and Vella into the UNDECIDED column all by themselves, with potential for upset in 16 clear.
Today, Gannett split their LD16 endorsement urging re-election of the more experienced Republican, Ciattarelli, and challenger Zwicker, who the Courier News says can bring to Trenton what his mentor, former scientist-congressman Rush Holt, brought to Congress.
Also today, NJ Spotlight points out both challengers have a shot at winning in this redrawn district.
Now, we come to the debate. I live in LD16; I’ve been involved in the last 4 Assembly campaign cycles. And I’ve seen both Ciattarelli and Simon, like GOP legislators, do everything possible to bask in Christie’s glory, mentioning him, echoing him, supporting his platform, defending his vetoes. But that was before, when Christie had game, when his swagger still worked, before the state’s voters – even Republicans – turned away. And there’s a cost to sacrificing your own common sense for the chance to be a bigger politician’s acolyte. Now, they have to defend him. And his policies – the ones they lined up behind – are mighty unpopular. Here’s the LD16 League of Women Voters Debate.
Full debate (thank you, Princeton Community Television) is 90 min. Looking for a particular issue?
- Gun violence prevention (start at 22:30)
- The pension system (start at 13:25)
- Energy and the environment (start at 32:45)
- Minimum wage (start at 55:03)
If you’re considering where to put your last-minute contribution, the LD16 Dem challengers are a good place to put your money to work; this district is primed for change. Follow the links at ZwickerVella to contribute.