New Jersey’s top Republican has weighed in on a hotly contested race for State Assembly in the 25th district, calling on Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger to say where the stood on Gov. Phil Murphy’s hint that New Jerseyans could face a tax increase in 2019, but the Democrats didn’t take his bait.
“After raising taxes on New Jersey’s hard-working families and businesses over $1 billion just six months ago, the Governor says that higher taxes could be on the way in 2019,” GOP State Chairman Doug Steinhardt said. “Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger need to answer for the Governor’s proposed tax increases. Where do they stand?”
Bhimani and Draeger, who are challenging five-term Assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-Boonton) and a still undermined running mate for the seat of retiring Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township), said they won’t back a tax hike.
“The cornerstone of our campaign is to restore fiscal responsibility to protect taxpayers already reeling from the Republican tax scheme in Congress that adversely impacts New Jersey residents, and the idea of raising taxes further is simply not the answer,” Bhimani and Draeger said. “We cannot add to their burden, and together we stand firm in a bipartisan manner to do more with less in the best interests of our residents.”
Carroll announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election to a 13th term and is expected to seek the Republican nomination for Morris County Surrogate.
So far, only Denville councilman Brian Bergen has entered the race for Carroll’s open seat.
The Morris County-based district, which also includes Bernardsville in Somerset, has been held by Republicans since 1979, but Democrats have made major gains in recent years. Hillary Clinton won the 25th, albeit by just 18 votes, and Democratic congressional candidates combined for a 9,479-vote win on November 6.
Bhimani, a Mendham Township physician, ran for the State Senate in 2017 and held State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-Boonton) to a 52%-48% margin in 2017 in a district that has 9,332 more Republicans than Democrats. She now taking aim at Bucco’s son, who has been viewed as heir apparent for his father’s senate seat.
Draeger, a former regulatory analyst with UBS AG, is the Chester Township Democratic Municipal Chair. She and her family raise sheep, chickens and honeybees on their farm.