Tag Archive: nj-3

Tom MacArthur’s Investment

Tom MacArthur may be a right-wing extremist on social issues and a Bush acolyte who still believes that “trickle down” works, but one thing he’s not is stupid.

MacArthur’s career may be summarized by the phrase “follow the money.” As an insurance executive, he is accused of shortchanging his employees on overtime pay and of denying payment to disaster victims. He’s against a federal minimum wage law and against the Paycheck Fairness Act. As CEOs are wont to do, he worships the bottom line.

So why is he investing north of $4 million of his own money to buy a seat in Congress – a seat that pays $174,000 a year? Sounds like a foolish investment. But it’s not.

Aimee Belgard on Social Security and Medicare

One of the most important issues distinguishing Aimee Belgard and her opponent in the NJ-3 Congressional Race is that of the future of Social Security and Medicare.

Today in Willingboro, Phil Rotondi of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare announced his group’s endorsement of Aimee Belgard.

Belgard understands that earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare are part of a complex economic system that makes this country run. In her remarks, she points out how passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and paying a fair minimum wage would make earned benefit systems solvent for decades to come.

Where’s Tommy?

There’s been a lot of discussion about the fact that Tom MacArthur, a resident of Morris County, is carpetbagging in his attempt to represent parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties in Congress. In public forums, MacArthur consistently brushes this off by claiming that he has had a home in Ocean County for the past nine years. But that’s not the whole story.

Belgard Releases First Television Ad

Thanks to election campaign laws that favor the moneyed interests, the media war in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District is not being played out on a level field. In a district that spans the first and fourth most expensive television markets in the nation, getting a candidate’s message across on the airwaves costs dearly.

One candidate, Republican Tom MacArthur, has stated that he will spend whatever it takes to get elected. I’m sure the CFOs of the Philadelphia and New York television stations are happy to hear this. MacArthur has already put $3 million of his own fortune into the campaign, and sources tell me that if the polling is close, he will also have the opportunity to tap into the virtually unlimited bankrolls of Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers.

Democrat Aimee Belgard, whose grass-roots campaign relies on thousands of small contributions, will never be able to match the MacArthur media blitz. But Belgard has won past contests where she’s been outspent by a 9 to 1 margin (including races in which opposition funds came from the aforementioned Sheldon Adelson).  

Adult Leadership

It’s a well-known fact that Congress is dysfunctional. The Republican leadership behaves like a miffed three-year-old. “If you don’t play the game my way (i.e. stand in the way of progress), then I’ll take all my toys (i.e. shut down the government) and go home (i.e. take more vacation than any other Congress has in the past.)”

Given the child-like behavior of Speaker John Boehner, Louis Gohmert, Michele Bachmann and the rest of that crowd, it would be beneficial to elect some real adults to the House of Representatives – people who would earn their salaries and perks by actually working for the American people, regardless of political affiliation.

How does this premise of adult leadership apply to New Jersey’s Third Congressional District?

On the Republican side, we have Tom MacArthur, a Rollo the Rich Kid who parachuted in to the district to use his vast fortune to buy an open seat. MacArthur himself has said that he will spend whatever amount of money it takes to get elected. His childish campaign material rarely talks about his policies but rather taunts his opponent, Aimee Belgard, with misinformation on her record and features manipulated photographs of her showing dirt all over her face.

Aimee Belgard, on the other hand, exhibits the kind of adult leadership we need in Washington. As a minority member of the County Board of Freeholders, rather than being obstructionist, she works with the majority to get things done. Not all the things that she’d like – after all she’s still in the minority. But many improvements in the county, including more transparency, improved fiscal oversight, a better recycling program, and the rescue of a cherished nature center, are among her accomplishments on the board. And to everyone’s credit, while she and the GOP majority on the board may have ideological disagreements, all have kept the discussions civil and they treat each other with mutual respect. Isn’t that the kind of behavior we need in Congress?

Tom MacArthur Can’t Even be a Good Carpetbagger

It’s well known that Tom MacArthur is a carpetbagger. The former mayor of Randolph in Morris County is trying to buy a seat in Congress by running for the open seat in New Jersey’s Third District (Burlington and Ocean Counties). But he can’t even do a good job of carpetbagging.

True, MacArthur has owned a summer home in South Jersey for many years, but even that home is outside the District. So he dipped into his 8-figure net worth and bought a relatively inexpensive condo in Toms River for the purpose of establishing an in-district address.

Yet, public records show that his wife Debbie is still registered to vote in Randolph. This begs the question as to whether Tom MacArthur really lives in the District.

Don’t Run the Country Like a Business

In political campaigns, you often hear candidates promise that they will run the country like a business. To me, that’s almost a disqualifier.

I live in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District, and the two major party candidates are running for a seat being vacated by the retirement of a former NFL football player.

The Republican candidate is an insurance CEO (who lives 90 miles outside the district) and touts his business experience as a reason why the people of the district should send him to Washington. To me, being a successful businessman has about as much relevance as being an NFL offensive tackle when it comes to my vote.

Beyond Obamacare

Healthcare.gov will be fixed. People will sign up and reap the benefits of universal health coverage starting in January. So what’s next?

No doubt, the Republicans will continue their quest to reverse the limited progress made to date. They will try to deny coverage to many, eliminate the cap on “administrative” costs to insurance carriers, and cut preventative care, which saves lives and money.

Democrats are counting on the projected ubiquity and success of Obamacare after January to lock it in and to shut down the GOP’s incessant and futile efforts to repeal. They’re wrong. Just take a look at other successful programs like Food Stamps. The Republicans are not hesitant to take food from children and veterans in the name of fiscal responsibility. They’re not even hesitant to shut down the government in the name of fiscal responsibility either, knowing that their shutdown cost tens of billions of dollars. And some Democrats are complicit, confusing “blackmail” with “compromise.”

But for now, let’s assume Obamacare survives the wounds being inflicted by the mean-spirited GOP. Like Medicare and Social Security, the Affordable Care Act will be meshed within the fabric of society while still being constantly attacked. So what’s next?

The Unsung Candidates

So, with redistricting behind us, we’re headed toward Election Day with a 6-6 House delegation of incumbents seeking reelection. That means we have 6 chances to increase the democratic majority in our delegation. Sure, some of these chances are better than others. But Presidential years are funny – you might remember we picked up a seat in 2008.

With polls showing both President Obama and Senator Menendez potentially posting gaudy margins of victory here, there should be cause for optimism. And, more importantly, there is good reason to support our democratic congressional challengers in every District. (You remember the 50-State-Strategy, don’t you?)

You’ll hear from others (and I’ll write separately) about the two challengers given the best chance to win this year – NJ-3’s Shelley Adler and NJ-7’s Upendra Chivukula. And, wow, I hope they do!

But, today, I’d like to give a quick shout out to the four other democratic candidates who are doing their part to bring the 50-state-strategy to life. When they campaign against their opponents, they keep them and their money in-district, and by extension, help democratic candidates everywhere. Win or lose, they deserve some appreciation (and some help):

In NJ-2: Cassandra Shober faces the same headwinds other challengers here have faced: an incumbent with an overrated record on labor, and a conventional wisdom that a democrat can’t win. But, the reality is that this is a district democrats can win and Obama may win, and hardly the worst place to be running for Congress in a Presidential year. Add in that Cassandra has a great background and a core of hardworking grassroots supporters, and who knows – surprises can happen.

In NJ-4: Brian Froelich has perhaps the toughest assignment, going against an incumbent whose radical anti-choice stance never seems to dent his personal popularity. But, could this year’s odd national focus on abortion rights finally shine the spotlight on a Congressman whose positions are more in line with Akin and Mourdock than NJ suburban voters? When the incumbent was first elected 32 years ago, he was given little chance to win. Surprises have happened.

In NJ-5: Adam Gussen has gotten beaten up here and elsewhere for raising too little money to compete against Scott Garrett. And, some of that is deserved. But, I know Adam is campaigning hard, he’s got a compelling story to tell about himself, and about the winnability of this race. And, let’s face it, someone like Garrett deserves to be challenged as fiercely as possible. I really want a surprise to happen.

In NJ-11: John Arvanites has waged a surprisingly aggressive campaign in a district that was radically redrawn as a result of redistricting. The Morris County Democrats who’ve suffered mostly alone under the generations of the incumbent and his family holding this seat have welcomed the addition of large swaths of Essex and Passaic County to help flip this one. Still the underdog, the final outcome of this race may be the hardest to predict. Supporters hope a surprise does happen.

And that’s the rub – New Jersey’s Congressional elections have become extraordinarily predictable. We need to create some surprises.

Shelley Adler ad: “Free Agent”

NJ-3 challenger to Rep. Jon Runyan Shelley Adler released her latest ad today again with a football theme, a “free agent” for outsourcing. It shows a big, helmeted wrecking ball of a guy in a suit knocking people over at their workplaces, and literally soaking a family. Adler, at the end, makes an appearance to literally lift up one of the workers Runyan shoved. What do you think, Blue Jersey?