>By Max Pizzaro @ PolitickerNJ
Still reeling from Gov. Chris Christie’s 2009 cannonball that undid their meticulously constructed designs for county control, Monmouth County Democrats are trying to re-inflate enthusiasm around the candidacies of Freeholder Amy Mallet and an 11th District legislative slate that benefits from redistricting.
At the the top of the ticket for the Democrats as they try to unseat state Sen. Jennifer Beck, (R-12), of Red Bank stands Ray Santiago of Freehold Township, a Puerto Rican born success story who grew up in Brooklyn and hung up the law shingle in lush Monmouth County about ten years.
Coming off back to back losses at the local level and deprived of the two years of fundraising he says he, of course, would have preferred, he took the short runway shot at a Senate candidacy based on redistricting and his belief that the district is winnable. Registration in a district composed in part of old 11th District towns, including Asbury Park and Long Branch, favors Democrats: 36,643 to 26,405 Republicans with an additional 68,899 undecided voters, but again, the overall trend lines in Monmouth have been steadily Republican in the Christie era.
Santiago plans to run against Beck in part on a platform of wanting to improve the schools funding formula in order to exert fairness for Monmouth County towns. Part of his argument for election includes the pitch that he will be more independent than Republicans forced into line by the animated Christie.
“I’m not a fan of Governor Christie’s,” Santiago told PolitickerNJ.com. “I don’t like the mannerism in which he makes his case. It’s my way or the highway. Moreover, all of his talk of cuts simply forces the towns to raise taxes at the local level.”
As for Beck, “What positive things has she done?” Santiago wanted to know.
Challenged to explain how he thinks another lawyer in Trenton can make the case to regular voters that he would effectively answer their constituent needs, Santiago said, “As an attorney, I have first-hand knowledge of how these laws impact people. Who better to draft and create legislation? I would say this, too, importantly, my sense of the law – my sense of my profession – is that it is the service of human need. The way I approach the law, it is in service of the disadvantaged.”