Asbury Park Press - Karcher
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  1. #1
    Monster Buck MarkMartinFan's Avatar
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    They don't even mention the sportsman and her anti agenda. They are blaming her Christmas tree farm tax for her demise.


    Farm tax break seen as Karcher's undoing

    Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 11/8/07

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    It was the Christmas tree farm tax break that did in state Sen. Ellen Karcher's bid for re-election.

    State Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, and political experts said Democrat Karcher's poll numbers started to drop after news stories appeared about her farmland tax assessment on 7 acres of her family's 8.5-acre property in Marlboro. Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck on Tuesday defeated Karcher to win the Senate seat, 26,656 to 22,738, with 5 percent of the Mercer County portion of the 12th District still to report tallies.

    "It was the way the farmland assessment was played out in the press and by Beck," Codey said Wednesday. "Once that came out, the polling data changed significantly.'

    Poll numbers for Karcher had been strong prior to the news, Codey said.

    "We did polling from February on, and it was Ellen Karcher up by 5 to 7 percent; that never changed until that issue came out," Codey said. "Once that came out, the polling data changed significantly."

    Codey said the campaign "stopped the bleeding" and mounted a major get-out-the-vote effort the weekend before the election, but he conceded the 12th has historically been a Republican district.

    "I argued vigorously that she (Karcher) had to respond to it and, in the end of the day, she did," Codey said. "In hindsight, I wish I was aware" of the farmland tax break issue before the story broke.

    Academics agreed with Codey's assessment, adding that the issue hit home with voters concerns about high property taxes in the state.

    "The money spent on the advertising blitz on the Christmas tree farm, that was the turning point," said Brigid C. Harrison, Montclair State University professor of political science and law. "Beck was down by five percent, after that Karcher's lead starts being chipped away."

    John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers, said: "The allegations about Karcher's property tax and the way she responded were the biggest things that carried the day for Beck."

    Effective mailer

    One piece of campaign literature mailed by the GOP was a bright Christmas card-style flier which read "Merry Christmas . . . to Me" and had an altered photo of Karcher in a Santa hat. In it, the Beck campaign questioned the farm's eligibility for farmland assessment.

    "We saw a dramatic swing in the last week (of the campaign). . . . There was an 11-point swing over the last week or two," said Joseph Patten, Monmouth University associate political science professor. "It tapped in to the broader issue of property taxes. That campaign advertising hit at a primary concern."

    News coverage of the issue, coupled with its transformation to a discussion topic for talk radio hosts on station NJ 101.5, was also a factor in taking votes away from Karcher, Harrison said. Hosts referred to Karcher as "Christmas tree Karcher."

    Karcher said in an interview during the campaign that six to 12 trees a year are sold, in addition to firewood, to meet the $510 minimum in revenue to qualify for farmland taxes. It was a working farm when the family purchased it in the mid-1990s, she said.

    Experts also said the Karcher campaign didn't respond strongly or quickly enough to the issue.

    "There seemed to be a lag between the time the issue came up and the response," said Ingrid Reed, director of the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University. "It was difficult to make it go away. It needed to be answered swiftly and cogently and pervasively. It (the answer) didn't hit home."

    Mike Premo, Karcher's campaign manager, called it a traditional Republican attack.

    "No doubt it was an effective attack, when you present it in the way that they presented it, but we had a response that countered the attack with the fact that Republicans made it sound like she only paid $213 when she paid $25,000" in property taxes, Premo said. "We told people that she (Karcher) paid her fair share and that the GOP information was false."

    Tax increases tied in

    But to voters, that didn't appear to be the right answer.

    "(Saying) how much you pay in property tax wasn't a good response. . . . It was a weak response. She should pay $40,000 perhaps was how voters saw it," Weingart said. "She was benefiting from an existing law, but that made her record on ethics seem a little hollow to voters."

    Beck said voter response to the tax issue was to be expected in a state with among the highest property taxes in the country.

    She said she linked the tax break with Karcher's record approving various statewide tax increases. "Many people felt, as a state representative who voted for 32 new taxes, protecting herself with a loophole didn't sit too well," she said.

    The Karcher campaign responded by bringing up Beck's driving record and failure to pay tickets on time, but experts said that issue didn't get the same response from voters.

    "It didn't have legs," Reed said. "People have heard things about (a candidate's) driving record before, and it didn't relate to people's deep-seated feeling of what's wrong with the property tax issue."

    Karcher's farmland assessment was a sore point for voter Charles Pugliese, 36, of Red Bank.

    Pugliese, who works in radiology systems support, said he met Karcher on the campaign trail and found her likable. But, in the end, he questioned who is honest anymore and cast his ballot down the GOP line.

    Some votes remain uncounted in Mercer County, where a cartridge from one district in East Windsor couldn't be tallied on Election Night. The Mercer County Clerk's Office was seeking a court order Wednesday to retrieve that cartridge, among others in the county, and those remaining votes were not expected to be added to the tally until at least today. In addition, provisional ballots remained to be counted.

    The additional votes won't affect the Beck-Karcher outcome, nor are they likely to change the results in the District 12 Assembly races, in which Republicans Declan O'Scanlon and Caroline Casagrande defeated incumbent Michael Panter and Democratic running-mate Amy Mallet by between 1,800 and 2,700 votes.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator sam3's Avatar
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    There it is.
    Spin No.1

  3. #3
    Monster Buck mightyhunter's Avatar
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    I'm sure the farm tax issue turned more people off than the A3275 bill did. Just my opinion.

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  5. #4
    Non Typical gkurilla's Avatar
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    I'm sure the farm tax issue turned more people off than the A3275 bill did. Just my opinion.

    It probably did turn more planned voters against her, but sportsmen who other wise would have stayed home came out and voted in force against her.
    free-range, grass-fed, organic, locally produced, locally harvested, sustainable, native, low-stress, low-impact, humanely slaughtered meat. Best of all it is free, other then the cost of my hunting license that is.

  6. #5
    Non Typical shipmate bill's Avatar
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    you have to realize that the democratic party is distancing themselves from karcher, panter, and mallet. And they can say "these idiots aligned themselves with the ARA's. What were they thinking?" when the governor is SO anti-hunting. They're doing what they do best, politicking.

  7. #6
    Dominant Buck Dave2122's Avatar
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    It does not suprise me at all, just look who they are quoteing "State Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex" He would never admit that Sportsman were her undoing.
    "It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." Samual Adams

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  8. #7
    Dominant Buck yoda4x4's Avatar
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    We all know that the left-sided idiots would all blame something else for this happening. But in the end, it really doesn't matter what the reason is. The 2 morons - Karcher and Panter are OUT, and that's the best news no matter what the spin is.

    NJ... Where fun comes to die!


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