With 102 days to go before voters decide key races for federal and local offices in New Jersey, GOP State Chairman Bob Hugin thinks inflation – and “the very poor performance of President Joe Biden and Gov. Phil Murphy — has positioned Republicans to win congressional and local elections in November.
“Bad economic outlook is bad for all Americans and bad for people in New Jersey. And that’s obviously good for us,” Hugin said. “Inflation is going to be the number one issue.”
Internal polls are showing races that have no been competitive for years to suddenly be winnable, Hugin says
He’s attributing that to Biden and Murphy.
“People are not governing the way they campaigned,” Hugin said. “President Biden campaigned as a uniter and a moderate (who would) bring people together. And in fact, he has divided the country more greatly and enacted policies that have shifted us so sharply to the left that people can’t even understand where the middle is anymore.”
State government has “also veered to the left so dramatically that people are really looking for big change here,” he believes.
“A lot of that’s not just economically, but also culturally and educationally,” claimed Hugin, who directly criticized Democrats for “trying to take away responsibilities from parents.”
Hugin, who is pro-choice, deflected the idea that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade might help Democratic candidates rebound from economic issues.
“What we’re seeing in polling is that the extreme position that Democrats have taken on the issue of abortion, where they’re supporting abortion in any circumstance, including live birth abortion, late term abortion is not what the American people want, nor the people of New Jersey,” Hugin said. “There are very few Americans at all believe that abortion should be available at any time.”
Hugin also pushed back on sluggish second quarter fundraising numbers for two Republican congressional candidates in potentially competitive districts: Frank Pallotta in the 5th and Paul DeGroot in the 11th.
“When Steve Sweeney lost Ed Durr, the money didn’t matter. Obviously, you would like your candidates to raise as much money,” Hugin said. “Obviously, you would like your candidates to raise much money, and frankly, in some of the cases, we would hope they’d be raising more money and hopefully they’ll accelerate their fundraising.”
Money is less important on the candidate level, Hugin maintains, saying that campaign finance reports don’t necessarily “reflect where the real money is being spent today.”
“There are PACs and independent expenditures that will dwarf the amount of money that candidates, Democrat or Republicans, spend,” he said.
According to Hugin, voters “don’t trust the media, they don’t trust political parties, they don’t trust government, they don’t trust big corporations where people get their information to make decisions.”
“They’re either going to form it themselves based on the quality of life they have and the issues they face when they go to the gas pump every time to go to work or can’t figure out how they’re going to pay to go have any kind of vacation, etc., because inflation is such a terrible tax and toll, especially on people in the lower economic strata,” he said.
New Jersey House races
Hugin avoided commentary on individual races – as state party chairman, he said he was “not going to say any race is not winnable when you have candidates that are out there fighting hard every day – but he did specifically suggest that House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch) could face a tough race to keep the seat he first won in 1988.
“He doesn’t provide the. Constituent services he once did,” Hugin said. “And he better be running scared because the things that we’re seeing in a lot of these districts would make me very nervous.”
An internal poll released this week by Republican Claire Gustafson in the 1st district showing her five points behind Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) was consistent with other GOP polls he’s seen.
Specifically, Hugin said he was optimistic that Republicans will flip control of county commissioner boards in Cumberland and Gloucester counties.
“I think it’s going to be a very surprising election,” he said.
Hugin panned the idea that new political parties formed by former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and East Amwell Township Committeeman Rick Wolfe might draw moderates away from the GOP.
“Let’s be clear on the Moderate Party is nothing but a desperate — I wouldn’t say last ditch, but pretty much last ditch – for Congressman Malinowski, who sees the writing on the wall,” Hugin said. “Democrats threw him under the bus and the gerrymandering and he has been a basically 100% Pelosi vote — whatever she wants — and Biden groupie.”
And Hugin believes Whitman’s new Forward party “is not something that’s going to get any traction in New Jersey.”
“I think I think the Republican Party is one that has a big tent a lot of people are in in the party,” Hugin noted. “There’s so much that unites the Republican Party and we have differences in some areas, but the overwhelming issues of liberty, freedom, economic policies, the role of government, American exceptionalism, strong foreign policy and strong national defense are issues that unite us far way outweigh the divisiveness that you’re seeing in the Democratic Party.”