N.J. Republicans launch fight to win Assembly

Posted: August 09, 2013

Republican leaders in the New Jersey Assembly leaders began a push Wednesday to take the majority from the Democrat-controlled state Legislature, calling for change and blasting opponents as "Corzine Democrats."

Appearing with two Republican candidates in West Deptford - the home of Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney - Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick said Republicans would target competitive seats in November, but would be "in every district," arguing that Democrats have been in power too long.

"They remembered special interests, but they forgot about the small businessman," Bramnick said during a news conference at Campbell Comfort System, an 11-employee heating and air-conditioning business.

"So it's real simple. Unless we get in the majority," he said, "we're going to continue to see the same failed policies that the Democrats have initiated for the last decade."

Bramnick - who appeared with the Republican Assembly candidates in the Third Legislative District, Gloucester County Freeholder Larry Wallace and Salem County Freeholder Bob Vanderslice - derided Democratic lawmakers as "Corzine Democrats," in line with Gov. Christie's unpopular predecessor. Christie also has used the phrase to attack his Democratic gubernatorial opponent, State Sen. Barbara Buono of Middlesex County.

"If you asked the average person in New Jersey, do you want to continue with the Corzine Democrats? . . . I guarantee you overwhelmingly people will say no," Bramnick said. "If we can get that message out, there's no way we can lose."

Every seat in the Legislature will be contested in the November election. Democrats control both houses, 24-16 in the Senate and 48-32 in the Assembly.

Republicans' taking the majority is "still unlikely," said Patrick Murray, a political analyst at Monmouth University. But if Christie wins reelection by a landslide, he said, "there is the potential that the coattails could make it very interesting."

Murray said the Assembly would pose a greater challenge to Republicans than the Senate. In some districts where Republicans are trying to knock out Democratic senators, he said, Republicans already hold the Assembly seats.

Still, "they're looking for a symbolic victory," Murray said. In the Third District, "knocking off one of Steve Sweeney's running mates" - Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Assemblywoman Celeste Riley - "will provide that."

Bramnick introduced Wallace, who owns a dental management company, and Vanderslice, a bank president, as "two outstanding business people."

"It doesn't get any better than Larry and Bob," he said.

Wallace said people have been leaving New Jersey "because it costs too much money" and "you can't open a business and flourish."

In his industry, Vanderslice said, "bankers are drowning in regulation."

Saying Christie has been stymied by Democrats in efforts to cut taxes, Vanderslice asked that voters "give us two years, so we can help the governor get the job done."

A spokesman for the Democratic Assembly campaign committee, Derek Roseman, said Republican leaders "apparently missed the part where Democrats took the lead on the bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing the state."

"Whether it's been capping property taxes or championing the needs of small businesses," Roseman said in a statement, "or actually crafting the bipartisan property-tax-relief plan or fighting for women's health, legislative Republicans have always taken the backseat."

Contact Maddie Hanna at 856-779-3232 or mhanna@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @maddiehanna.

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