A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

RGA Not Amused by Daggett


Chris Christie, the Republican nominee in New Jersey’s gubernatorial contest, recently called the candidacy of Chris Daggett, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator who’s running on the Independent ticket, an "amusement." But the Republican Governors Association isn’t so amused by Daggett.

With polls showing Daggett cutting into Christie’s lead, the RGA has released both a 15-second TV spot and a 60-second radio ad saying the Independent candidate is like the state’s current governor, Democrat Jon Corzine, only "worse."

The RGA radio ad says that Daggett’s tax plan sounds like Corzine’s "but worse." "Toll increases, massive sales tax increases," the ad says. "Independent sources confirm Daggett actually wants to tax you for getting your haircut, your dry cleaning, you name it."

Daggett’s plan to cut state property taxes by 25 percent includes an expansion of the 7 percent sales tax to "a wide range of personal, professional and household services, including services provided to individuals by professionals such as lawyers, accountants and architects." Dagget says the additional revenue would help pay for the property tax cuts.

But it’s not true, according to Daggett campaign spokesman Tim Johnson, that Daggett wants to increase tolls on New Jersey’s roadways, as both the TV and radio ads say. Johnson told us that Daggett "did not call for increased tolls" and that Daggett would only entertain that idea "if no other viable options are found."

The radio ad also says "newspapers say Daggett’s property tax scheme is pretty much the same plan that Corzine cooked up. … That was a disaster." Bob Ingle, Trenton bureau chief for Gannett New Jersey newspapers, did pen a critical column saying that Daggett’s tax plan "sounds a lot like the one Gov. Corzine and the Legislature cooked up." He didn’t call it a "disaster" – that’s the RGA’s word – but it was clear he thought it hadn’t delivered as promised.

Christie’s plan, the ad says, is to "cut spending, cut taxes, restore your property tax rebate, root out corruption, and make New Jersey a great place again to live, work and raise a family." Sounds excellent. But Christie has been criticized for not providing specifics on how, exactly, he plans to cut spending and reduce New Jersey property taxes, which are the highest in the nation. The Wall Street Journal published a scathing editorial earlier this month saying, "[e]ven if Mr. Christie ekes out a win … the Republican will arrive in Trenton with a mandate to do what he campaigned on – nothing."

There are less than three weeks left before New Jerseyans head to the polls on Nov. 3.