Home>Feature>GOP candidates in 11th upset by mailing, but don’t refute charges

11th district Republican Assembly candidates Michael Amoroso, left, and Matthew Woolley

GOP candidates in 11th upset by mailing, but don’t refute charges

General Majority PAC alleges Amoroso raised taxes, Woolley blocks Planned Parenthood funding

By David Wildstein, September 13 2019 4:36 pm

A mailer sent out by the George Norcross-connected General Majority PAC isn’t making the Republican Assembly candidates in the 11th district happy, but the candidates aren’t disputing the allegations either.

The direct mail piece called Michael Amoroso a “tax hypocrite” for raising property taxes as president of the Freehold Township Board of Education, and said that Matt Woolley “opposes a woman’s right to choose and wants to block funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Amoroso and Woolley are challenging two-term incumbents Joanne Downey (D-Freeholder) and Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) in a Monmouth County legislative district that Democrats wrestled away from GOP legislators in 2015.

“Women are cheated out of the health care they deserve if politicians just dole out money to politically active third-party groups without any accountability,” said Woolley. “I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone against funding women’s health care in New Jersey today. These are just scare tactics.”

The Downey and Houghtaling campaign backed up the claims made by the political action committee.

“While the LD 11 campaign does not and cannot have any association with independent expenditures, it’s interesting that Amoroso and Woolley don’t seem interested in refuting the content of the mailer,” said Mickey Quinn, a spokesman for the Democrats.

Quinn classified Amoroso a “hypocritical tax raiser and called Woolley “an out of touch extremist who doesn’t support a women’s right to choose.”

“Since these facts aren’t in dispute, we can only assume they are terrified of having their records laid bare and this odd attack shows how much they have to learn about how campaigns are run,” Quinn said.  “Rest assured, they will be fully educated by November 5th.”

Woolley called the attacks that his campaign is backed by the “Trenton GOP machine” as Democrats getting “down and dirty.”

“The irony is just how misleading it really is,” Wooley said.  “Mike and I are running a local, grassroots campaign, but our opponents are backed by the biggest, most infamous state political machine today.”

The problem for the Republicans is that grassroots is often code for a lack of financial resources to compete

The most recent reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission on June 24 show Woolley with $12,732 cash-on-hand and Amoroso with just $5,461.
Republicans find themselves playing defense in Gov. Phil Murphy’s mid-term election, fighting back a Democratic bid to flip six Assembly seats in districts 8, 21 and 25. The GOP are trying to pick up seats in the 1st, 2nd, 11th and 16th districts, but it’s more likely for them to lose seats than gain them.

Democrats have a 54-26 super-majority in the State Assembly, when they are unified.

Among the obstacles in the way of the GOP picking up seats for their shrinking caucus is that the top two Republicans in the Assembly – Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Conference Leader Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) – are facing tough re-election bids in their own districts.

As a result, Bramnick and Bucco are raising money for themselves and not for Republican challengers.

The Amoroso-Woolley campaign did not immediately return a 12:20 PM call.

Republicans are barely competing in the 11th, where they held both Assembly seats from 2007 until 2015 when Houghtaling and Downey narrowly ousted incumbents Mary Pat Angelini (R-Ocean) and Caroline Casagrande (R-Colts Neck).

Downey defeated Angelini by 253 votes.  Houghtaling finished first in that race, 243 votes ahead of Downey.  Casagrande finished 235 votes behind Angelini.

In 2017, State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Red Bank) lost her 11th district seat by 4,158 votes (54%-46%) against Vin Gopal, the former Monmouth County Democratic Chairman.

general Majority PAC LD-11_Redacted
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