December 6, 2009


N.J. town's drift could be omen for Democrats (Thomas Fitzgerald, 12/06/09, Philadelphia Inquirer)

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. - The Garden State Parkway, the New Jersey Turnpike, and Routes 1 and 9 all converge here in a Medusa's nest of concrete ramps, right in the center of the state.

So do the main highways to political power.

To win statewide, Democrats must rack up big margins in the township and surrounding Middlesex County, and the party has managed to hold the mostly working- and middle-class territory in recent years. But last month, voters rebelled, helping elect Republican Christopher J. Christie governor. [...]

Frank Tsien, a retired teacher and registered independent, voted for Corzine in 2005, Christie this time.

"People are corrupted after a while, and you have to get new blood in there," Tsien, 65, said. He believed that it was time to kick the Republicans out of the White House last year, but thought Obama was too inexperienced. He went with Ralph Nader.

So far, Obama has not sold him. He especially doubts that the $847 billion health-care bill before the Senate will ever rein in costs as the president insists.

"You never see anything that gets lower over time. Never," Tsien said. "Certainly not government. It just keeps growing. Every government program costs more than they thought it would."

June Sandy's vote for Christie had nothing to do with Obama, she said. It was because Corzine, a former Wall Street titan, "is a multimillionaire who can't identify with real people," said Sandy, 33, who was at the Auto Parts & Sporting Goods store buying bait worms to feed her pet turtle.

"I was not voting against Corzine. To me it was a vote against Obama as president," said Patricia Notchey, who was reading a murder mystery as she ate lunch at San Remo Pizza on Main Street. Getting a new governor "was just a bonus," she said.

All of the money being spent from Washington frightens her as the deficit climbs over $1 trillion and debt piles upon debt. "I think Obama's changing the face of the nation, and it may not be there for my eight grandchildren," said Notchey, 67, a retired receptionist for an obstetrician. "There's too much government." [...]

To hang on to power, Democrats will have to reach fed-up and economically stressed voters such as Sandra Schwear, who was bowling late one afternoon as her two young boys begged for more coins for video games.

A native of Woodbridge, she's had it with central New Jersey.

Property taxes on her three-bedroom split-level home in Colonia have jumped from $4,200 to $7,900 in five years. "It's disgusting," said Schwear, 29. "We got the tax statement, and my husband threw it in the garbage."

The family is moving to Saratoga Springs in Upstate New York to a bigger and cheaper house; her husband got a promotion.

"It's getting too expensive to live here," Schwear said. "If we stay, we'll be on an endless cycle."

The GOP path back to power is recognizing that no one wants to pay for all the government we want.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 6, 2009 8:20 AM
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