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Senate Race: District 18

Rival to Sen. Barbara Buono fights back against high taxes.

For Republican candidate Gloria Dittman, winning a Senate seat in the 18th District is a serious matter. “If I don’t get this job as senator, I might have to move, because I can’t afford to live here,” Dittman said, alluding to the state’s high taxes.

Dittman pins those problems on the Democrats, particularly her opponent, Democratic incumbent Sen. Barbara Buono, the first woman to serve as Senate Majority Leader in New Jersey.

“Barbara’s view of life is very liberal, and we can’t afford liberal anymore,” Dittman said.

Buono has served the 18th District for close to two decades. She was first elected to the Senate in 2002, and was a member of the Assembly from 1994 to 2001. She is chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee and has been endorsed by the SIEU New Jersey State Council.

Dittman is the past president of the Edison Chamber of Commerce. She is retired from a position as human resource manager for a chemical company in her hometown of Edison.

She believes her management experience would give her “a whole different perspective” as a legislator. “I have been in business life, I have come up through the ranks,” she said.

Dittman said she is optimistic for the state’s future under the policies of Gov. Chris Christie. “He has given New Jersey a whole different look internally and throughout the county,” she said.

Buono is considered popular in the district and in Democratic circles statewide. She has been advocate for health care and school funding and authored the New Jersey’s School Funding Reform Act. She was considered for the lieutenant governor post by former Gov. Jon Corzine and is said to have gubernatorial ambitions. She did not return several requests to discuss this year’s campaign.

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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