Already wounded and reeling hard from the dagger blow of another guy named Brown from Evesham, Democrats in Burlington felt the blade go in even deeper today as Freeholder Chris Brown joined Mayor Randy Brown in changing his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
A disaffected Brown said he ran for public office on a platform of fiscal conservatism and social responsibility, committed to using his private sector experience to streamline government and make it more accountable.
“Over the last several weeks it has become clear that this platform will not be embraced by the necessary members of the Burlington County Democratic Party as too many do not share my determination to cut taxes and shrink the size of government to keep our communities affordable,” said the freeholder.
“I believe a smaller government that meets the needs of our residents is attainable and that we owe it to future generations to make tough decisions today that pave the way for a more prosperous tomorrow. While we won’t agree on every issue, it has become abundantly clear to me that my vision and ideals are more aligned with my Republican colleagues on the county Board of Chosen Freeholders than with the leaders of the Burlington County Democratic Party.
“Therefore, it is with great humility, honor and hope that today I choose to change my party affiliation to Republican.”
Brown was elected to the Freeholder Board in 2008 with the Obama wave amid Democratic Party hoopla in Burlington that appeared to unravel as soon as it started.
He is the second Brown from Evesham to switch from D to R in the past few weeks, today formally joining Evesham Mayor Randy Evesham.
But the newest minted Republican Brown insisted the Burlington Democrats’ organizational meltdown had nothing to do with his departure from the Democratic ranks, where former chairman Rick Perr crashed disgracefully last year amid a money wheeling controversial involving the candidacy of former Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, now facing federal corruption charges.
“This decision is based on policy, not politics,” said Brown. “It’s not about being controlled, it’s not about party organization. This is about people out of work, residents moving out of the state. I have a vision for government and I need to work with consensus building indivuduals.”
Brown’s bailout leaves Freeholder Mary Ann Reinhardt, his running mate in 2008, as the governing body’s lone Democrat.
Brown refused to take a punch at Obama.
“Like Tip O’Neill said, ‘All politics is local,'” said the freeholder, who argued that his 2007 win in Evesham in 2007 was built mostly on his own independent minded brand.
Prior to 2006, the freeholder said he was unaffiliated, but “Republican-leaning.”
Brown said he had no conversations with Gov. Chris Christie or Christie operatives prior to making his decision, and didn’t bother talking to the county’s frazzled Democrats.
“The governor is facing extremely difficult decisions,” he said. “I know a lot of people are not happy, but the tax burden on our working class is forcing residents out of the state. This state tax structure prohibits them from living here, and we must seek smaller and more efficient government.”
Acting Burlington County Democratic Chair Alice Furia was not immediately available for comment. Running for the position of party chair in June, attorney/undertaker Rich Dennison of Florence fired off a statement.
“Chris Brown reminds me of the symbol of his new party: the circus elephant,” Dennison said. ” As you well know the circus elephant lacks vision and is led around the circus ring, grabbing the tail of the elephant in front of him. I suspect that type of weak followership is what we shall see from Chris Brown on the Burlington County Board of Freeholders while he is now led by the majority there. One thing Chris Brown does not share with the circus elephant is a long memory–he apparently has forgotten the incredible hard work expended by loyal Democrats throughout this county in getting him elected. I hope fellow Burlco Democrats worry not, however, because as this party rebuilds and moves forward, we will surely hold him accountable.”