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Senate Race: Legislative District 33

Two firm and fervent Christie supporters vie for the same seat.

Republican candidate Beth Hamburger is a supporter of Gov. Chris Christie. But so is her opponent, Democratic incumbent Brian Stack.

In the staunchly Democratic 33rd District, Stack’s support for Christie might seem out of place, but not according to the Senator’s chief of staff, Mark Albiez.

“Senator Stack enjoys a working relationship with the governor,” Albiez said. “He passes party lines and understands that he has to work with folks who might not be of the same party, but are willing to help residents of the district.”

Stack has been a Senator since 2008. Before that, he served in the Assembly for four years. He has served as the mayor of Union City since 2000 and is vice-chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Albiez said that Stack is working on “the economy, unemployment, and the economy again,” adding that the Senator has hosted local job fairs quarterly “to unite a workforce for those who are in need of hiring talented employees.”

The governor and the Senator both share common ideologies regarding pension reform and health benefit reform, Albiez said, adding: “The governor’s been receptive to helping local residents.”

Stack’s support for Christie is likely to set Hamburger back in the race. Voter registration data shows that nearly half of all registered voters are Democrats while only 8 percent are Republicans.

Nevertheless, Russell Maffei, executive director of the Hudson County Republican Party and chair of the Jersey City Republican Party, thinks Hamburger has a chance. She has some name recognition, given that she ran, but lost, in 2009 for a seat in the Assembly.

Hamburger, who works in sales at the Bloomberg Company, has an up-close view of the financial world, said Maffei.

“She’s very in-tune with the need to rein in spending and have a competitive tax rate so we can be competitive in the region,” he said.

Hamburger is seeking to bring down taxes, and Maffei said that she would be following the governor’s lead to reduce the tax burden if elected.

Maffei said that the 33rd has been Democratic for so long that voters should take a chance on the Republican Party.

“My question is: If you have high taxes and a high crime rate, what does the average voter have to lose by giving a new team a chance to tackle some of the problems?”

Matthew Kassel is a freelance writer focusing mainly on politics and culture. He is an editorial assistant at Community News Service, a local newspaper group in Mercer County.

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