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BECK, KARCHER TRADE FIRE, ICILY

PoliticsNJ has coverage today of yesterday’s debate between 12th-district Senator Ellen Karcher, a Democrat, and her GOP challenger, Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck, at the Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls.

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Writer Max Pizarro has this scene-setter:

The place was standing room only, with the rest of the state of New Jersey weighing on the District 12 event like a psychic mother lode. The majority Dems figure the map works in their favor until 2011, when redistricting occurs, and with sufficiently safe districts elsewhere, they’ve essentially conceded the neighboring 11th, 14th and 13th strongholds – to throw their money into this one-time Republican lock district, where Karcher must get through the tenacious Beck.

Pizarro reports that “the candidates sustained their iciness toward each other throughout” the debate as they exchange fire over who between them had done more to “reform” state government.

The volleys exchanged included Beck’s charge that Karcher, as part of the Statehouse majority, has allowed for runaway growth in the state budget. Karcher claimed that Beck hasn’t delivered on her own promises of reform, an is instead a “lobbying legislator” who protects special interests in the healthcare industry, in which Beck is employed.

Noting that the Democrats are wheeling in money to attack her with desperation-tinged television advertising, Beck tried to administer the coup de grace in her closing statement when she said that what she believes are Karcher’s big government spending habits would be better suited to a more urban district.

“She has not been an effective legislator for this district,” Beck said of Karcher. “If she were from Hudson or Essex she might be effective.”

Underscoring all night the argument that Beck’s so-called fiscal restraint is a smokescreen for private interests, Karcher said all Beck had done in her public life as a legislator was kvetch.

“I don’t think the Assemblywoman ever made a tough choice,” Karcher said of her opponent. “I have written 20 new ethics laws. You can complain about the darkness or light a fire. I lit that fire.”

The hourlong debate ended without a handshake between the candidates, Pizarro reports.

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