by MAX PIZARRO
Democrats are depicting Evesham’s municipal races tomorrow as a Little Bighorn scenario in which the Republican Party has fallen back and circled the wagons around Burlington County’s power center, where the GOP has traditionally maintained control.
The Democrats believe they can ride in tomorrow with 40 people working the phones and over 100 campaign workers on the ground going door-to-door, and sweep former Philadelphia Eagles kicking coach Randy Brown to victory over long-serving incumbent Mayor Gus Tamburro. They say they’re primed to win in this suburban community of 42,275, where last year Sen. Robert Menendez scratched out a win.
“While this Republican stronghold has mostly been illusory, they’ve been able to win in large numbers in the 8th district, which has offset Democratic victories in the 7th district,” said Rick Perr, chair of the Burlington County Democratic Committee. “Evesham has been trending Democratic.”
The Republicans recognize it’s going to be a hard-fought battle. They have their own organization in place, and a mayor committed to winning.
“The mayor’s been going door-to-door everyday for three months,” said Rich Levesque, executive director of the Burlington County Republican Party.
“The Democrats have tried to make this race about taxes and spending,” he added, which is a joke in Levesque’s view because the majority party Democrats in Trenton are the fiscal mis-managers, he says, not Tamburro. “The reality is the state has done such a bad job on taxes. The taxes in Evesham make up 13 percent of your tax bill.”
Perr and the Democrats counter that local-purpose property taxes have risen under Tamburro, a critique that Levesque bats aside by pointing to Brown’s record.
“There was a judgment ordered against our opponent by the Department of Labor for failing to pay his business taxes,” said Levesque, who notes Tamburro’s backing by the Central Labor Council, which serves 1,400 union households in Evesham.
The Democrats are going after the votes of public employee union members, as well as Evesham’s broadening family recreation contingent: middle-aged voters with children in the school system who want better services.
Assemblyman Francis Bodine, who switched parties last month after more than thirty years as a GOP officeholder, has helped the Brown slate. Jim Saxton, the twelve-term Congressman from Burlington County, has been campaigning for Tamburro's ticket.