With the Burlington County freeholder election approaching, incumbent Democratic freeholders Aimee Belgard and Joanne Schwartz may have a tougher road ahead of them than expected due to the Republican ticket’s affiliation with local labor interests. But one source says that political action committees could be the deciding factor in which side gains seats.
A source told PolitickerNJ that while the labor advantage could cause some splintering among swing-voters, possible PAC spending at the county level could be the deciding factor. Whether PACs will see the Burlco race as enough of a prize to step in remains to be seen.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney recently told PolitickerNJ that he would help in fundraising efforts for the Belgard campaign if asked.
Though Belgard has had significant support of her own from unions and carried the bulk of labor endorsements in the past, Burlington County Republicans may have an advantage in Ryan Peters’s running mate Kate Gibbs, of the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative.
If Peters and Gibbs can make more of its connection to the Local 825, it could stand to persuade labor-minded swing voters that a wholly Republican board would be in its best interest. The Democrats currently hold a respectable 3-2 minority, but Belgard’s ability to keep the seat and retain Burlington County for the Democrats could be crucial for 2016.
The cooperative represents the Local 825 Operating Engineers, and offered its endorsement to Congressman Tom MacArthur during his 2014 campaign against Belgard for the House seat in a move that MacArthur said demonstrated his “crossover appeal.” The cooperative has not made an official endorsement so far.
Belgard suffered after MacArthur subsequently captured endorsements from The Laborers’ International Union of North America and The American-Canadian Laborers’ International Union of North America. MacArthur’s platform of labor-friendly fiscal pragmatism won him the seat in a competitive race.