A Somers Point attorney long active in local and state political causes may take on Gov. Chris Christie for the Republican nomination.
Seth Grossman, 63, filed initial election paperwork earlier this month with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission naming himself the chair and treasurer of “Grossman for Governor Committee.” He and Christie are the only Republican candidates currently contesting the nomination.
He said Tuesday that he was just “testing the waters” and he planned to make announcements in northern and southern New Jersey next week. If he runs, he would likely be a conservative protest candidate, facing an uphill battle against Christie, who has national recognition, broad state popularity and more than $2 million in his election account.
After inital stumbles, Democrats have largely coalesced behind state Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex. Candidates have until 4 p.m. April 1 to file election petitions to run in the June 4 primary election.
In late January, Grossman established a Facebook page and election website, grossman4nj.com. Among the dozen issues he said he would campaign on was that the state should: refuse to honor most of the state’s $240 billion in debt because it was not approved by voters; cap public pensions at $50,000 a year, limited to full-time employees; and change its education funding formula so that all schools receive the same amount.
Grossman has long been involved in politics, supporting initial Atlantic City efforts in the 1970s to change the city’s form of government and helping found the Chelsea Neighborhood Association, one of the resort’s oldest civic organizations.
Grossman developed a reputation as a gadfly when he was a Republican at-large councilman on Atlantic City’s then-nonpartisan City Council. He was a councilman from 1986 until 1990, when he gave up the seat to run for mayor. He placed third behind eventual winner Jim Whelan and then-Mayor Jim Usry.
In December 1991, Grossman said the poor quality of the resort’s schools compelled him to move his family from their South Delancy Place home to Linwood, several weeks after he lost a subsequent City Council race to represent the 6th Ward.
Grossman was also an Atlantic County freeholder from 1989 to 1991. He declined to run after the Atlantic County Republicans passed him over for endorsement following fights with fellow Republican freeholders and Richard E. Squires, the county executive.
“I don't believe meetings should be the end result of decisions reached over the phone or at the diner," Grossman said at his final freeholder meeting on Dec. 18, 1991. "I don't mean to cause trouble, but I want to let people know what's going on."
Out of office, Grossman has hosted radio talk shows on and off for more than 20 years and has remained active in politics. Since 2004, he has served as executive director of Liberty and Prosperity 1776, a group that seeks to educate people about the state’s constitution through mail and Grossman’s radio shows.
The group, a nonprofit, does not raise enough to require it to file detailed tax returns. In 2006, the last year it filed, the group raised $11,502, spent $14,712, and had $1,531 in assets.
In 2006, Grossman represented Atlantic City residents when they led a petition drive to put double-digit pay increases for City Council and top city officials on the ballot. Voters shot down the proposal, with more than 70 percent of voters against it.
He also filed a complaint against State Police Trooper Robert Rasinski, alleging speeding, careless and reckless driving, following Gov. Jon Corzine’s near-fatal April 2006 Galloway Township crash on the Garden State Parkway. Rasinski was driving Corzine at 91 mph. The complaint was later thrown out.
Grossman made headlines in January 2008 when he and conservative activist Steve Lonegan were briefly arrested in Middle Township for protesting Corzine’s unpopular proposal to halve state debt with sharp toll increases. The township and its Board of Education later apologized and the charges were dropped. Lonegan was a 2009 conservative protest candidate against Christie, losing in the primary.
Grossman also testified in Trenton against a proposal that allows Revel to receive as much as $261.4 million in projected sales tax revenue as a state reimbursement. The Economic Redevelopment and Growth grant was seen as key to getting the additional financing needed to finish the resort.
Contact Derek Harper:
Follow Derek Harper on Twitter @dnharper