Third district Republican congressional candidates Chris Myers and Jack Kelly traded barbs today over taxes.
Myers issued a press release yesterday decrying the vote of Kelly, an Ocean County Freeholder, to raise spending and taxes in the county’s budget on Wednesday. That, Myers said, contradicted the “Taxpayers Protection Pledge” that Kelly signed for the group Americans for Tax Reform late last month.
Myers said that the vote was part of a pattern of Kelly’s to increase taxes disproportionately high compared to Ocean County’s population growth during his six terms as a freeholder.
“Over the next few months, I urge voters to look past Mr. Kelly’s hollow rhetoric and take a close look at his record. When they do, I am confident they’ll see that I’m the only Republican candidate who can beat John Adler in November and end business as usual in Washington, DC,” said Myers in a press relaease.
But Kelly said that taxpayer protection pledge applied to his run for Congress, not county votes, and that the county raised spending by $2 million less than the state-mandated 4% cap.
“We’re extremely proud of our budget in Ocean County. We’re the sixth lowest tax rate in the state of New Jersey,” he said, noting that outside bond agencies always consider Ocean County a good investment. “Here’s my question to Chris Myers: why are you afraid of that pledge? Take the pledge.”
Kelly said that it was hypocritical of Myers, the current mayor of Medford Township, to criticize him for voting to raise spending when it’s gone up 50% in his town during his five years on the township’s committee.
“Here’s the difference between me and my opponent, said Kelly ” don’t need to ask my consultant or pollster what my position on the issue is…. He needs to go out and ask Jim Saxton or his pollster what to say.”
Although the rhetoric has grown more heated between Kelly and Myers over the last couple weeks, Kelly said that the campaign remains civil.
Update: Myers spokesman Chris Russell said that Myers did sign the tax pledge earlier this week.