It's going to be a long slog in the 12th.
Members of state Sen. Ellen Karcher’s entourage were all but shaking up the bubbly following their candidate’s showing at a debate Tuesday night. Then a Star-Ledger story hit Thursday and Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck said the Democrat should relinquish the money she saved through a farmland tax abatement program.
Suddenly Karcher was explaining how she grew up on a farm in Hunterdon with burros and Nubian goats, riding horses and driving a 1954 tractor that hauled a brush hog.
Beck didn’t buy Karcher as a farmhand.
"I obviously think she’s been inappropriately taking a property tax reduction,’ said the Republican challenger.
"That’s ridiculous," Karcher said of her rival’s entreaty that she pay roughly a quarter of a million dollars saved from the tax abatement since she and her husband bought the 8.7-acre Marlboro property in 1991, which Karcher says was farmed for 100s of years.
Elected in 2004, the senator admitted she failed until a few months ago to report on her Legislative financial disclosure form the annual $500 to $1,000 income she says her family makes from the sale of cordwood and Christmas trees. She also grows 148 recently planted lavender plants on the property.
Of its farmland status, "I’ve never hidden it, it’s been on file (locally) since 1991, and the tax assessor comes out every year," said Karcher, who pays almost $24,000 annually in property taxes.
"This is simply a diversionary tactic because she’s got nothing to run on," the senator said of Beck. "I think she took some real body blows the other night that stunned her and stunned her camp."
"It’s more Ellen Karcher hypocrisy," Beck said.