In every New Jersey state election, including both the gubernatorial and legislative campaigns, there are two sets of issues: 1) Values issues; and 2) Affordability issues.
In election year 2023, the two major values issues are abortion and parental notification. My column of October 12, 2023 summarized the positions of both major parties on these two issues.
The major affordability concern of the New Jersey electorate, as it has been for the last 20 years, continues to be real property taxes. Yet it will not be the major affordability voting issue.
The reason is that the electorate perceives both parties as having failed on real property taxes and will not believe the promises of either party on this issue. In effect, when it comes to real property taxes, the voters have tuned out both parties. The electorate perceives itself to have very limited efficacy on this matter.
By contrast, New Jersey voters perceive themselves as having genuine efficacy to set aside those regulations that make New Jersey more unaffordable. In 2023, the major regulatory issue in this regard is the electric car initiative of Governor Phil Murphy, which I described in my column of October 3, 2023. It would require car manufacturers to ramp up sales of electric vehicles before barring them from producing fossil fuel vehicles altogether in 2035.
Republicans have pledged to eliminate this regulation. Accordingly, it has become the leading affordability issue in NJ Legislative Campaign 2023.
Thus, the 2023 NJ legislative election has become a three-cornered context of abortion, parental notification, and the electric car. The party that does the better job of getting its voters out to the polls for its issues will prevail. It’s a cliche, but it will all come down to turnout.
Alan J. Steinberg of Highland Park served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.