Cap Beat: Shumlin campaigns against Chris ChristieVermont Press Bureau | March 04,2013Fewer than four months have passed since he swept to a 20-point victory in his first bid for re-election. But Gov. Peter Shumlin is already back on the campaign trail.
These days, however, Shumlin is politicking as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, trying to oust one of the nation’s most popular Republican executives.
“New Jersey residents know better than anyone that the New Jersey Comeback ... as Chris Christie has described it ... has really become the New Jersey Fallout,” Shumlin said during a press conference in Montpelier recently. “They have among the highest unemployment rates, lowest growth rates in their economy, and things aren’t going so well.”
Shumlin has been even more vocal about Christie’s alleged failings with reporters in New Jersey, when he spoke two weekends ago with reporters at The Star-Ledger. He’s chosen an interesting line of attack. “The middle class is getting kicked in the teeth in New Jersey,” Shumlin said. “(Christie) vetoes income tax increases for the millionaires and billionaires and tells the middle class they have to pay more.”
Progressives and liberal Democrats in Vermont might note some irony in Shumlin’s criticism. New Jersey is one of the few states in the U.S. where the top rate on income taxes — 8.97 percent — exceeds the 8.95 percent assessed in Vermont.
Shumlin has rejected calls for tax increases on millionaires and billionaires in Vermont, saying they’ll just pack up and leave for friendlier pastures.
One of the bases for Christie’s vetoes: an analysis by his administration’s chief economist that higher taxes on the rich would result in tax flight.
“Our analysis of the New Jersey 2004 ‘millionaires’ tax’ suggests that, over time, migration effects could offset a meaningful share of that revenue boost,” Christie economist Charles Steindel wrote in late 2011.
Christie’s opposition to tax increases on the wealthy aren’t the only reason Garden State voters will decide to change course, Shumlin said.
Back at the Montpelier press conference, Shumlin said the surge in popularity Christie has enjoyed in the wake of Sandy will no doubt soon ebb.
“I’ve had some experience with big storms and ... usually after a big storm you get a bump in the polls — he’s certainly enjoying that,” Shumlin said. “I can tell you from experience that dealing with the aftermath of storms can be more controversial than the work you do during the crisis.”
Shumlin said DGA staff are doing most of the legwork down in New Jersey. But he said he has had a direct hand in brokering consensus around a single Democratic candidate. The woman he believes can take over the governor’s mansion: State Sen. Barbara Buono.
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