TRENTON – Did your legislator vote for a tax hike, a state subsidy, an increase in appropriations, or a local spending mandate? Well, they likely were near the bottom of Americans for Prosperity’s “Taxpayer Scorecard,” which the right-wing group unveiled in the Statehouse today.
Topping the list in the upper chamber was state Sen. Mike Doherty, (R-23), Oxford Township, (93 percent rating) who was on-hand to accept his plaque, not his first. His first plaque was awarded to him two years ago by the organization, and is “prominently displayed” in his office. “It always puts a smile on my face,” he said, being that his initial goal as a lawmaker was to protect taxpayers in the face of special interests.
The results are culled from bills indentified by AFP as fiscally irresponsible; some bills are given more weight than others in the rankings, like opposition to the state budget and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
No Republicans scored below state Sen. Diane Allen’s, (R-7), Edgewater Park, rating of 56 percent; none of the Democrats were ranked above state Sen. Jeff Van Drew’s, (D-1), Middle Township, rating of 39 percent.
Doherty was joined atop the upper chamber list by state Sens. Steve Oroho, (R-24), Franklin Township, at 84 percent and Gerry Cardinale, (R-39), Demarest, at 80 percent.
In the lower chamber, Assemblyman John DiMaio, (R-23), Hackettstown, topped the list at 94 percent. Behind him were Assemblypersons Pat Delany, (R-8), Lumberton (94 percent, during a brief stint in Trenton); Erik Peterson, (R-23), Clinton Township (93 percent); Michael Patrick Carroll, (R-25), Morris Plains (92 percent); and Alison Littell McHose, (R-24), Franklin Township (90 percent).
Pulling up the rear in the upper chamber, state Sens. M. Teresa Ruiz, (D-29), Newark (16 percent); Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth (18 percent); and Sandra Cunningham, (D-31), Jersey City (21 percent).
In the lower chamber, Assemblypersons Dan Benson, (D-14), Hamilton (11 percent); Jason O’Donnell, (D-31), Bayonne (14 percent); Kevin Ryan, (D-36), Nutley (16 percent); and Speaker Sheila Oliver, (D-34), East Orange, Wayne DeAngelo, (D-14), Hamilton, Joe Cryan, (D-20), Union Township, and Annette Quijano, (D-20), Elizabeth (all at 17 percent).
AFP state director Steve Lonegan, a former gubernatorial candidate and mayor of Bogota, presented the awards to the lawmakers. He told State Street Wire that in the past Democrats were coming in at zero percent and generally below 10 percent. And while Lonegan took shots at Gov. Chris Christie for being fiscally weak in some areas, he credited the governor for bringing the left to center. “He has pulled them in the right direction,” Lonegan said.
DiMaio said of he and his 23rd District mates, “Can you tell that the entire delegation from the 23rd own and operate their own business?”
Long a single hardcore conservative among more centrist Republicans, Cardianle said it was good to have company on AFP’s list. “It is kind of refreshing to see that there are so many here today that have scored better than me,” he said, lawmakers willing to fight special interests that “haunt the halls” in Trenton.