Doherty says mayors may not like his bill, but the public will

When Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.), who’s running for state senate, saw a press release showing 14 Hunterdon County mayors lining up behind Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow (R-Flemington) for the seat yesterday, he assumed there was a reason for it.

It wasn’t because they’re from Karrow’s native county, while Doherty is from neighboring Warren County. Rather, Doherty said it was because he introduced a bill early this year that seeks to expand the “Lance Amendment” – which bans state borrowing without voter approval – and expand it to municipalities and county governments.

“I’ve never got so much feedback from elected officials saying stay out of our business, we’re going to make these decisions, and Marcia Karrow is adamantly opposed to that issue,” said Doherty.

Doherty’s bill (A1880) was introduced in January and has not moved since then. But he plans to make it an issue going forward, especially in his county committee campaign against Karrow and Hunterdon County Freeholder Matt Holt to fill the seat of outgoing state Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton).

Although unpopular with mayors, Doherty thinks the issue will resonate with the county committee men and women who actually vote on Lance’s interim replacement.

“The county committee is a different duck than a primary, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there are a lot of folks in county committee who are not mayors but agree with me on that issue,” said Doherty. “You can bet your bottom dollar even more that primary voters are going to support that.”

But two of the Karrow-supporting mayors contacted last night said that Doherty’s bill was far from their minds when they decided to back Karrow.

Rob Walton, the mayor of tiny Hampton Borough, said he didn’t even remember that the bill existed until he was reminded by, and that he had never taken a stand on it.

“That did not enter my calculus,” he said.

Walton said that he considers himself more ideologically compatible with Doherty on social issues, and even voted for him over Karrow before. But he said that Karrow had been the most responsive legislator to his borough’s needs during her time in office.

“There is a significant amount of difference in Marcia’s effectiveness in getting us through red tape in Trenton, getting us answers to issues, getting me face to face with policy and decision makers in Trenton. That just makes it a very clear choice,” he said.

Outgoing Clinton Mayor Nick Corcodilos chuckled when he heard Doherty’s argument.

“That’s classic Mike Doherty,” said Corcodilos. “It’s almost goofy. There are so many bigger issues that affect Hunterdon County than that, although I do not support his bill and I think it will go nowhere because I think municipal bonding is different than state bonding.”

Corcodilos said that Karrow is more amenable to policy proposals that differ from her original position, and that she has also swayed him on issues.

“Marcia stands up for us – she does it openly, she does her homework, she comes to her council meetings and makes her case, and when I need something I know I can have a substantive discussion with her. I’ve never had that discussion with Mike Doherty,” he said. “I think Mike Doherty is more interested in turning the Republican Party into a religious cult than representing his constituents.”

Doherty, an avowed social conservative, took offense at that joke.

“That’s just a comment that is totally uncalled for. I’ve always been about letting the people decide issues,” he said. “I’ve been about economic future, and that’s what A1880’s about – letting the people of a town decide what their economic fate is going to be.”

Doherty says mayors may not like his bill, but the public will