Republicans are enthused all over New Jersey.
Just drop by any GOP gathering these days and you’ll hear excited talk about the “red wave” or even the “red tsunami.” Inflation is up and Joe Biden’s poll numbers are down, so the rosy outlook is easy to understand.
Still, there are real races to be run in four competitive House districts – 3,5,7 and 11. Democrats hold seats Republicans had just a few election cycles ago and the GOP thinks this is the year they can win them back.
So with a bit less than four months to go, just how are the GOP challengers framing their arguments?
With a lot of rhetoric. That’s to be expected, but ultimately, it may be wise to offer some substance.
We begin our sampling in CD-3 (central/south Jersey) where Bob Healey hopes to oust Andy Kim, who like his Dem counterparts in CD-7 (Tom Malinowski) and CD-11 (Mikie Sherrill) won his seat in 2018.
Healey seems to be a guy who likes a bit of theatrics.
Remember that during the primary campaign, he stood on one foot for a minute or so to mock then-opponent Ian Smith who had to do the same when he was stopped for allegedly driving drunk.
More recently, Healey recorded himself standing in a Turnpike service area, where gas at the time was a bit cheaper than elsewhere, pointing to cars lined up.
“We deserve better than this,” Healey says.
This is a very common theme.
In CD-7, (central/western Jersey) Republican Thomas H. Kean Jr. seems to be basing his entire campaign so far on inflation.
In recent weeks, Kean has commented on the rising price of milk, coffee, air fare, toothpaste, hot sauce, fireworks, beer and tires. And that’s just a small sampling. We get it.
But as some cynics point out on the candidate’s Facebook page. just what would “Congressman Kean” and the Republicans in general do about inflation? The same question can be asked of Healey and his gas lines.
Everybody knows inflation and gas prices are high, but candidates should offer solutions.
Also, what happens to this campaign theme if inflation ebbs. After all, gas prices are dropping, albeit slightly.
Over in CD-5, (north/eastern Jersey) Frank Pallotta, who is challenging Josh Gottheimer for the second time, has most recently been reaching out to what may be a fertile field of potential Republican voters – Hispanics.
Pallotta spent part of last Sunday with the state GOP’s Hispanic Coalition. Soon thereafter, the candidate expressed solidarity with the people of Cuba, noting that it was a year ago this week that “thousands of Cubans flooded the streets in protest of the repressive, Communist Castro regime.”
He ended his Facebook post with the words – “Libertad para Cuba.”
Just for the record, the district’s Hispanic population is now about one in five.
Up in CD-11 (north/central Jersey), Republican Paul DeGroot is calling himself “Republican Tough.” OK, but the district favors Democrats by 60,000, so DeGroot can’t win this race with GOP votes alone.
At a function this week, guest speaker and 101.5 radio personality Bill Spadea noted that some Dems see Sherrill as a 2025 gubernatorial candidate. He suggested that could result in DeGroot’s candidacy being overlooked. Guess we’ll have to see if DeGroot makes Sherrill’s possible future plans an issue.
Politics changes quickly – as do the issues. But one notable issue Democrats are going to be much more eager than Republicans to talk about going forward are abortion rights.
But will that outweigh voters’ concerns about high inflation?
A sign at an abortion rights rally a few weeks ago said prices will eventually drop, but that rights lost can be lost forever.
That’s a legitimate point, but probably too long for a bumper sticker.