The race for 12th-district Senate seat continues to get more attention for the accusations flung back and forth between incumbent Ellen Karcher of Marlboro and Red Bank Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck than for any other aspect.

In today’s Star-Ledger, political columnist Tom Moran ponders the “irony” of two women he says are widely respected in and around the statehouse trading constant, personal fire in the race.

From the column:

Both these women are known in Trenton as decent people. Spend time with either of them, and you come away confident that they have the public interest at heart.

And that brings us to the big irony in this race — each woman is accusing the other of being the perfect sleazeball.

Karcher, we are told, is not paying her fair share of local property taxes because she “takes advantage of loopholes” to “give herself a tax break.”

Beck is a Trenton insider who has been “lining her pockets” with the public’s money by ignoring conflicts of interest that cost taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars.”

For voters, the blizzard of accusations can be bewildering. One elderly woman who answered her door when Beck was canvassing in Red Bank Wednesday night complained that she had received dozens of glossy mailings, most focusing on the other woman’s warts.

“It’s confusing,” she told Beck. “How do you know who’s telling the truth?”

That, of course, is the art of negative campaigning. You begin with a kernel of truth. Then you dress it up to look sinister.

The print version of the story has a photo showing Beck talking to Dotty Loversidge in front of her apartment at Shrewsbury Manor.

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