GLOVES-OFF IN THE 12TH-D SENATE RACE

Today’s Star-Ledger drops in for a look at the “she slurps her soup”/”she kicks puppies” rhetoric in the 12th-district state Senate contest between incumbent Ellen Karcher of Marlboro and Red Bank Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck.

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From the article:

In the 12th Legislative District, which has seen one corrupt official after another hauled off to jail, touting one’s ethics while disparaging one’s opponent’s is the order of the day.

Karcher boasts solid credentials on that score. As a member of the Marlboro Township Council from 2002 to 2004, she asked hard questions, was rewarded with death threats and went to the FBI. She wore a wire as she was offered bribes. Those she helped convict include a former Marlboro mayor who admitted taking $245,000 in payoffs from developers.

But Republicans complain that since Karcher joined the Democrats who rule Trenton in 2004, she has become part of the problem.

“She’s been a reformer in name only,” Beck said. Karcher dismisses that as “nonsense.”

Beck, a former Red Bank councilwoman, has been unusually visible for a freshman member of the minority party. She has often carried the GOP banner, particularly in its push for tougher ethics reforms, while maintaining a streak of independence.

Karcher’s campaign, awash with Democratic Party money, has accused Beck of conflicts of interest dating to her days as a lobbyist and in her current job as a vice president of QualCare, which manages health benefit plans.

“I’m not a lobbyist, and I haven’t been for three years,” said Beck, adding that she has been on sabbatical from QualCare since March 1 and will not return if elected. “It’s the same nonsense we saw in the 2005 Assembly race, which is outright lies and personal attacks rather than any substantive discussion about the crisis facing the state.”

Each woman accuses the other of “hypocrisy.”

The article quotes Caroline Casagrande, who’s on Beck’s ticket seeking an Assembly seat, saying of the war of words, “This has really been a race to the bottom.”

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