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Lisa Bhimani, left, and Darcy Draeger

LD25 candidates spar over transparency

Neither side responds directly to other camp’s attacks

By Nikita Biryukov, October 29 2019 6:49 pm

Assembly candidates in the 25th district are having it out over transparency.

State Sen. Anthony Bucco and Denville Councilman Brian Bergen claim their Democratic opponents are hiding their stance on a budget that was enacted in June.

“For four months, our campaign has called on Bhimani and Draeger to come clean with 25th district voters and say where they stand on the state budget that slashes school funding across the district, raises taxes and spending by billions of dollars, and provides zero relief for the highest property taxes in the country,” GOP campaign manager Rob Costello said. “Our calls have been met with complete and total silence.”

Democrats Darcy Draeger and Lisa Bhimani charge the Republicans are keeping quiet about who will take Bucco’s seat in the Assembly should he win re-election.

Bucco remains on the ballot after taking his late father’s seat in the upper chamber. State law bars him from holding seats in both chambers of the legislature, and Bucco has no intention of keeping the Assembly seat if he wins the race.

“The only thing less transparent than running a fake candidate for a seat he just resigned from is appointing a party-insider behind closed doors to take his place if he wins — and that’s exactly what Anthony Bucco is trying to do in this election,” the Democrats’ campaign manager Dan Fleiss said. “It’s a desperate power grab to save his crumbling political dynasty, and exactly the kind of self-serving Trenton politics that voters are fed up with.”

It’s not the first time either side has fielded their respective attack, and neither side is acknowledging, let alone, addressing their opponents’ charges.

Still, there’s at least a little common ground between the two camps: They’re both hitting Gov. Phil Murphy over comments he made at Rowan on Oct. 1, when he said that New Jersey may not be the state for voters whose only concern was tax rates.

Republicans in most of the state’s competitive districts have hit Murphy over the comments and drawn little in the way of response from their Democratic opponents.

Draeger was asked about the comments during yesterday’s League of Women Voters debate, and it appears she and the Republicans are of a mind here.

“Well I think that if that’s Phil Murphy’s attitude, he’s probably going to be a one-term governor,” she said.

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