Election Day Overview
To: Trenton’s Bad Bet Leadership
From: Bill Cortese, Executive Director
Date: November 8, 2016
Re: Election Day Overview
Trenton’s Bad Bet launched its campaign to oppose the referendum – later to be known as Question One – to expand casino gaming into North Jersey in late July 2016. Up against opponents like Governor Christie, Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Prieto, and two out of state billionaires who were funding the pro-expansion effort, we quickly moved to work with New Jersey residents, groups and organizations to blunt their efforts.
In June, a Monmouth University poll showed 48 percent of New Jersey voters supported casino expansion, while 48 percent opposed the ballot question allowing casinos in North Jersey. Through our dedication and hard work, we have moved those numbers significantly in our direction, with the latest public polling showing a wide majority of voters now opposed to Question One.
During the campaign, we focused on a few key points:
- Bait & Switch: Proponents are making a lot of promises about what expanded gaming will generate, but Trenton has a track record of making promises it fails to keep.
- Mismanagement: New Jersey government has a long record of mismanaging itself and taxpayer dollars. Based on this record, there’s no reason to think it will get the gaming expansion right.
- Transparency: The casino referendum is explicitly inexplicit. Residents expect and deserve full transparency, but so far this referendum has been hammered out behind closed doors with few details for the public.
Examples from Trenton’s history of mismanagement and deception, including diverted tax dollars, underfunded state pensions, neglected schools, a depleted Transportation Trust Fund and string of failed special interest projects, resonated with New Jersey voters and served as the outreach platform for Trenton’s Bad Bet.
Leveraging these messages, we were able to build an aggressive statewide campaign that included a robust mail program, media outreach, digital dominance and grassroots community engagement. Trenton’s push to get the proposal approved and on the ballot without scrutiny from citizens proved elected officials are out of touch with the state electorate’s wishes.
A pro-referendum campaign was launched in summer, Our Turn NJ, but would prove to be short lived. Polling data at the end of September indicated a full 68 percent of likely voters in New Jersey had no interest in expanding casino gaming outside of the already struggling Atlantic City. This data proved devastating for supporters of the referendum; combined with the aggressive campaign being waged by Trenton’s Bad Bet, there was no room left for proponents to conduct outreach that would sway the inevitable result. Our Turn NJ ceased their failed campaign in September, a move that was followed by a Jeff Gural melt down at a Bayonne Chamber breakfast in early October where he called his Trenton supporters “stupid.”
The depth of our grassroots support was evident from the endorsements we received from organizations such as the Passaic County Hispanic Ministers Association, NAACP chapter presidents, UNITE HERE Local 54, Associated Builders and Contractors, and numerous local officials, all united in opposing casino expansion.
Publications such as, The Star-Ledger, Asbury Park Press, Press of Atlantic City and The Philadelphia Inquirer all came out in opposition to Question One, further strengthening our case to New Jersey voters and ensuring the public was well informed of the dangers of casino expansion.
In the hours before the referendum is put to a vote, Trenton’s Bad Bet is confident New Jersey taxpayers will not allow this proposal to go forward. Worried that they will be left to pick up the pieces of yet another poorly thought out special interest project giveaway, residents of the state have come out strongly against the proposal.
We are confident the grassroots campaign to rally those in the state who would be most impacted by another failed Trenton project will prove successful. In the remaining hours until polls close on Election Day, Trenton’s Bad Bet will continue to work and encourage taxpayers to vote no on Question One.
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About Trenton’s Bad Bet:
Trenton’s Bad Bet is a diverse collection of concerned New Jersey community leaders, unions, businesses and residents that will work to oppose the New Jersey Casino Referendum that seeks to expand gaming into North Jersey.