LD14 Flashpoint: Republican Stout Takes a Crack at Benson Amid Speaker Fracas

Kristian Stout, a Republican Assembly Candidate from the 14th legislative district, took an adult-in-the-room crack at relevance this morning by calling on incumbent members of the New Jersey General Assembly to focus on the needs of voters instead of playing party political games for control of the Assembly Speakership.
Stout took pains to single out his opponent, Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-14) of Hamilton.
“They take the voters for granted. They look at their task in the legislature as one of divvying up the spoils of political conquest instead of as working for the interests of their constituents,” said the candidate. “Instead of play-acting their own version of House of Cards, these people should be out there campaigning as though the voters
actually mean something.”
The Speakership position is one that carries with it an enormous amount of power, including the ability to kill or promote legislation, as well as the ability to reward friends with a generous flow of campaign funds, Stout said. Currently, incumbent Assembly members are rumbling to determine whether, after the November general election, they will select current Speaker Vincent Prieto or challenger Craig Coughlin to be the next Speaker.
“Take a look at one of my opponents, Dan Benson, for instance, who has publicly supported Coughlin for the speakership in order to consolidate his own political influence and access to money,” Stout complained. “Why isn’t he instead focusing on the problems that are affecting the people in our district? This is as presumptuous as if Phil Murphy were to announce his cabinet before the gubernatorial primary occurred. The anti-democratic flavor of this contest is distasteful, to say the least.
“The power play going on in the Assembly tells you everything you need to know about the way these politicians view us: our votes don’t matter,” he added. “I’m not naive: I know how gerrymandering works, but they aren’t even
​pretending to care about elections any more.”
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