TRENTON - Those New Jersey conservatives who believe that Republican Gov. Christie is a tax-and-spend liberal may soon have an alternative in the June gubernatorial primary.
Seth Grossman, a Somers Point lawyer and Linwood resident, was elected to the Atlantic County Freeholder Board and Atlantic City Council in the 1980s. In 2003, he founded an organization, Liberty and Prosperity, that espouses many tea-party principles.
"Chris Christie is not a conservative, never was a conservative, and all he wants is the power and celebrity," Grossman said in an interview.
Specifically, Grossman cites Christie's "corporate bailouts," such as the tax breaks promised for the struggling Revel casino in Atlantic City. Grossman announced his candidacy Tuesday in front of Revel.
He notes that state budgets and debt had increased during Christie's term.
"Christie may not have created the problem," he said, "but he's sure not part of the solution."
In January 2008, Grossman was arrested while protesting a meeting that Jon S. Corzine, then the Democratic governor, held on a toll-increase proposal. The charges were dropped, and Grossman said his organization subsequently won a $100,000 settlement from the Middle Township police and board of education.
Grossman was arrested along with Steve Lonegan, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2009 as the tea-party alternative to Christie. Lonegan is not endorsing Grossman nor supporting his bid, according to news accounts.
Grossman said he was collecting signatures and was confident that he would have the necessary 1,000 signatures by April 1.
He says he has raised $5,600; Christie has amassed more than $2 million. Still, Grossman's campaign website is far more substantive than Christie's.
A Christie campaign spokesman declined comment on Grossman's entry into the race.
The main Democratic contender for governor is State Sen. Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex). Two polls released Tuesday show Christie has a 42-point lead in a head-to-head matchup against her.
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