At a press conference outside the New Jersey Statehouse today, a collection of five Republican congressional nominees – Bob Healey, Frank Pallotta, Sue Kiley, Paul DeGroot, and Darius Mayfield – took their Democratic opponents to task for failing to rein in inflation and bring costs down in New Jersey.
“We all stand here today with a clear and simple message for the people of New Jersey: your Democrat House leaders in this state have failed you,” said Pallotta, who is running for the 5th congressional district against Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff). “When it comes to assigning blame or assigning responsibility for the problems we currently face, we need look no further than the party in charge.”
The State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction cap, which was passed by Republicans in Congress in 2017, was a common theme for the candidates at today’s event. Thanks to the deduction cap, huge numbers of higher-income households in New Jersey are paying significantly more in taxes, and Democratic representatives have so far been unable to meet their promise of eliminating it.
“She could have done what Joe Manchin did, and she could have stuck her ground and fought for New Jersey,” DeGroot said of his opponent, 11th district Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair). “But when push came to shove, what did she do? She fell in line with Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, and she stabbed every taxpayer in this state in the back when she failed to pass SALT [relief].”
“I’ve watched over the last year as Andy Kim has commented on every issue under the sun,” Healey said, referring to his opponent in the 3rd district, Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown). “Except, of course, inflation, gas prices, crime, the border crisis, and any other key issues dominating the minds of every voter I speak to.”
Democrats have countered such economic arguments by noting that it was a Democratic Congress that passed bills like the Inflation Reduction Act, which they say will help bring down inflation. But the Republican congressional candidates said today that the Democrats have focused too much on progressive causes and not enough on kitchen-table issues.
“We have to focus more on the things that are most important to the people in New Jersey, rather than things like the Green New Deal or the new bill that’s going to ‘lower inflation,’ which we all know it’s not going to do,” said Kiley, who faces longtime Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) in the 6th district. “It’s appalling that we don’t have the respect we deserve.”
Each of the five Republicans who made an appearance at the presser is an underdog, but to differing degrees. Healey’s race against Kim is generally regarded as the state’s second-most competitive race, and Pallotta and DeGroot have a chance at victory as well; Kiley is a greater longshot, and Mayfield is extremely unlikely to beat Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) in the 12th district.
Former State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), running in the top-tier 7th district race against Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), did not make an appearance.
A spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the organization dedicated to defeating each and every attendee at today’s press conference, said following the event that blaming Democrats for the SALT deduction cap was preposterous.
“This is a ridiculous stunt that isn’t fooling anyone,” DCCC regional press secretary James Singer said. “These desperate Republican candidates for Congress seem to have forgotten it was their party that capped the SALT deduction – and have made it clear that their goal is to make the cap permanent at the expense of New Jersey taxpayers.”
This story was updated at 3:37 p.m. with a response from the DCCC.