Beck’s Game Face Revisited: 2007 and 2017 and the Farmland Assessment Booby Trap

Democrats eyeing to beef up their numbers in the state senate see an opportunity in LD11 with Vin Gopal, the former Monmouth County Democratic chairman with a knack for relationship-building, fundraising and party organizing.

At a Colts Neck fundraiser last night, he demonstrated his political potency in a room crammed with Democratic Party insiders and friends who ponied up big dollars for the Long Branch-based businessman. There was some gentle conversational high-fiving at the bar too as Dems identified what they see as Republicans’ inability to find suitable running mates for Gopal’s opponent: incumbent Senator Jen Beck’s (R-11).

Gopal is in part fueled by the huge cash infusion in 2015 that accounted for the loss of Beck loyalists Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-11) and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-11). Bucked up by their vaporization of those two lower house brand names, Democrats want to move in with Gopal this year and finish off Beck.

But insiders in both parties – including at least one Gopal loyalist who stood, hands clapping in the room last night – acknowledge that Beck is extremely tough.

Just ask former state Senator Ellen Karcher, picked off by the Republican in 2007 (27,000 to 23,000 votes) despite then Senate President Dick Codey and Dems pouring millions into the district to stave off Beck in a year when Republicans were badly damaged as an Iraq War-mangled George W. Bush dragged at the party brand.

A lifelong runner, Beck did a door-to-door job on Karcher, who blitzed her challenger with round after round of glossy mail pieces as she exhibited a less than stellar on-the-ground work rate. (To be fair, Karcher took a major hit – maybe the game-changer of the contest – when the Beck Campaign exposed her as a beneficiary of a Farmland Assessment tax break, forever after in NJ politics dubbed “a Karcher Problem”. If the Democratic challenger this year can avoid that kind of booby trap he may keep the race closer). Gopal insists that he will impress politics watchers with his own retail politics, and intends on undertaking his own ground war to complement the air war, but Beck and her allies take heart in the edge they have as a consequence of Beck’s having served a constituency for nearly ten years.

Gopal is not Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider, they argue, who has a years-long constituency and seaside name ID.

The Democrat will try to brand Beck as a functionary of limping Republican Governor Chris Christie, while Beck will use the bulk of her air and mail time – in conjunction with a vigorous walking tour – to remind voters of her own identity and history in the district. The GOP points out that it’s by design that the senator has not made a bigger deal about her running mates.

“Beck will go low risk and put all eggs in her basket to carry ticket,” said a Republican source. “She’s smart to do it. [Gopal running mates] Houghtaling and Downey will still be total unknowns. …This is Beck v. Gopal for all the marbles.

“Advantage Beck,” the source added. “But I don’t underestimate Vin. He’s ambitious as hell.”

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3 responses to “Beck’s Game Face Revisited: 2007 and 2017 and the Farmland Assessment Booby Trap”

  1. “The Democrat will try to brand Beck as a functionary of limping Republican Governor Chris Christie”
    First of all that’s a very well written sentence. I think I’m a fan of INSIDERNJ. Secondly the point is valid. Ms. Beck never criticized her governor his entire term. Silence is consent.

  2. Please define “vaporized”; there was only a 1.2% vote difference, between the highest & lowest vote-getter in the 2015 Assembly race in LD11. It would be interesting to know how much more it cost the Democrats per vote, than it cost the Republicans.

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