Progressive congressional hopeful Alex Law of South Jersey’s first district laid into his primary opponent on the Huffington Post’s politics blog today, pointing to what he described as a pattern of disproportionate tax incentives for businesses affiliated with the Norcross machine. Law is challenging incumbent U.S. Representative Donald Norcross, brother of powerful insurance executive and Democratic power broker George Norcross III, in the Democratic primary on June 7.
“Through Donald’s position as a State Senator before he was a Congressman, coupled with support from State Senate President Steve Sweeney, George was able to pass the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) in 2013,” Law wrote, before delving into estimates of the cost per job created for each subsidy. “The bill spent billions of tax dollars to stimulate economic opportunity in at risk areas. Camden was given a near blank check for development, just so long as corporations were willing to create some jobs.”
A representative with Donald Norcross’ campaign described the post as “the incoherent ramblings of a basement blogger,” citing factual inaccuracies such as calling Donald Norcross the youngest of the brothers and saying that Governor Chris Christie served as Attorney General (Donald is the middle child, and Christie was New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney).
Stephen Danley, a professor of public policy at Rutgers Camden and an occasional critic of the Law campaign, said that Law’s messaging and media reach seems to be compelling the Norcross campaign to stump harder than in previous cycles. Danley said that Law’s progressive critique of the incumbent stands to garner support in the district, and that the campaign’s communications savvy has distinguished from previous opponents of the Norcross coalition.
“If you look at congressman Norcross’s appearances across the county, his recent support for the $15 minimum wage, his presence both on his email lists and on social media, there is starting to be an indication that the Norcross campaign is taking the Law campaign seriously,” Danley said.
Norcross unveiled a bill to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 last month, with Law announcing his own potential bill this week. Norcross’s bill would aim at hitting that $15 benchmark by 2021, while Law’s would effect it by 2020 and see a slightly larger initial increase to $10 instead of $9.38.
Reached for comment, Law said that the arrived at estimated cost-per-job numbers by comparing the size of each company’s grant to Camden County Freeholder Cappelli’s job creation projections in a recent Courier Post op-ed. Camden County representative Dan Keashen took issue with Law’s assessment of the EOA and the effect it has had in Camden.
“I have witnessed Camden city residents getting jobs as welders through Holtech, though the Camden County one-stop hiring training program,” Keashen said of Holtech International, which received $260 million under the bill. Law estimated the cost-per-job for those subsidies to be $215,000. “Those are city residents with a defined skill-set that are making a very livable wage.”
The point-by-point attack could be a sign that Law’s campaign, notable for his endorsement for Bernie Sanders and Law’s outreach to young voters in its early days, has lit upon a strategy for engaging those older voters most likely to go to the polls.
“It would be great if we could bring young people out and we’re doing everything we can for that, but the reality is in this election that we need about 18 to 20,000 votes to win,” Law said. “So we’re targeting those people who are most likely to vote.
“We really believe that our plan on minimum wage is significantly stronger, as well as our policy across the board,” he added.