In the 7th District’s races for the New Jersey Legislature, incumbents from both parties are forecast to be re-elected despite strong challenges, particularly from Republicans who hope to benefit from Gov. Chris Christie’s popularity.
Political analysts expect the current occupants in the split district to prevail on the basis of long service, personal popularity or simple incumbency but GOP challengers argue that popular discontent over scarce jobs and high property taxes indicate the time is right for them to overturn the Democrats’ modest margin of victory in the last election.
Contenders on both sides of the aisle agree that the top priorities for the next Legislature will be job creation through tax incentives or regulatory changes, and continued property tax relief.
The district spans an area south of Trenton and north of Cherry Hill. It includes the towns of Moorestown,Willingboro, Burlington, and Bordentown.
In the Senate race, well-known Republican Sen. Diane Allen is defending a seat she has held since 1998 against Delran Township Council President Gary Catrambone, a Democrat who highlights his record in controlling property taxes.
Allen’s longevity has at least as much to do with her personal popularity as with her party, an affiliation that she plays down, saying that she wouldn’t survive without some votes from the district’s registered Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by almost two to one.
In an interview, Allen said that jobs, taxes, open space and health care are the issues on the minds of most voters.
While property taxes are set locally, Allen said she and other elected officials at the state level can help to reduce the need for tax hikes by encouraging the sharing of services by adjacent municipalities. She said she has been working on service sharing with local leaders in Democrat-dominated Beverly.
Allen, a former TV news anchor who now runs her own media production company, said she works with people regardless of who they vote for. “People say to me: ‘Why are you working in Willingboro? They don’t vote for you there,’” she said. “I put people before politics.”
That’s why she is counting on some Democratic votes on Nov. 5.
“If I don’t get any Democratic votes, I won’t win,” she said.
But she acknowledged that this year, party affiliation is likely to help her and other Republicans because of the popularity of Christie. “I think he will have some coat-tails, and I think that will help me,” she said.