This story was updated with comment from Rosemary Becchi at 9:56 a.m. on Sept. 25.
Republican House candidate Rosemary Becchi took aim at Democratic tax practices Wednesday, blaming them for closures at a shopping plaza off route 10.
“Our towns were once bustling economic centers filled with lots of activity at our local and small businesses. Now, entire strip malls like this one lay vacant,” she said in an 88-second-long Twitter video. “Left-wing, anti-business policies have forced companies to shut their doors entirely, leaving the ones still fortunate enough to have a job to foot the bill for our out-of-control spending through never-ending tax increases.”
But stores in Whippany’s Pine Plaza aren’t shutting down because their owners faced an unsurmountable tax burden. They’re closing because the plaza is being redeveloped.
In July, Hanover’s all-Republican Township Committee approved a resolution adopting a redevelopment plan that had then already been in the works for months.
According to local media reports, businesses were already leaving the plaza as early as December, well before the redevelopment plan was formally submitted to Hanover officials in April.
“They are being thrown out,” Gunsitters owner Eric Rebels told the Hanover Eagle. “My lease ends in 2024, (The Original Pancake House) lease ends in 2022.”
Becchi stood by the video, saying she hoped its message would resonate with voters even if tax policies weren’t responsible for Pine Plaza’s shrinking occupancy.
“I stand by my economic plan and my video, and I challenge anyone who believes highlighting the plight of small businesses in New Jersey right now is a ‘flub,'” she said. “We need to stop ignoring the real issues facing our small businesses. We need to stop out of control spending and proposed tax increases by the Democrats. When people fill out their mail-in ballots I hope this story resonates and people remember that a vote for me is a vote for pro-business and pro-job legislation. We need to focus on getting people back to work and getting business back on track in New Jersey.”
Though developer Joseph Forgione is a Democrat, he also fervently backed President Donald Trump in 2016.
“As a lifelong Democrat, I’m proud to say that I voted for President-elect Donald Trump and contributed to his campaign,” he wrote in a January 2017 op-ed. “Donald Trump is, first and foremost, a businessman and a job creator. As a developer, he understands the policies that spur economic growth as well as the regulations that hold American business and job creation back.”
Forgione was even floated as a potential pick to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, though that job eventually went to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Becchi is running for Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s (D-Montclair) 11th district House seat, which Republicans held for more than 40 years before Sherrill defeated Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) to win it in 2018.
The Cook Political Report rates the seat as solidly Democratic.