The Democratic challengers in one of New Jersey’s most closely watched Assembly races are holding longtime Republican incumbents Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) accountable for backing up Gov. Chris Christie when he slashed funds for women’s health and family planning services.
In what continues to be a localization of national issues in state legislative races, challengers Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman are calling out the GOP legislators for past votes after the Trump administration’s new restrictions on abortion caused Planned Parenthood to withdraw from the Title X family planning program.
“With radical anti-choice zealots implementing anti-women policies at the federal level, it’s more important than ever to have representatives in Trenton who will stand with Planned Parenthood and other women’s health and family planning service providers in New Jersey,” said Mandelblatt and Gunderman.
As governor, Christie ended state funding for Planned Parenthood and vetoed efforts by the Democratic-controlled Legislature to restore it. Gov. Phil Murphy reinstated the funding in 2018, the first bill he signed after taking office.
Bramnick and Munoz voted against the restoration of funds, Assembly voting records show.
“Unfortunately, we can’t count on Jon Bramnick and Nancy Munoz to do that,” Mandelblatt and Gunderman said. “Time and again they stood with Chris Christie and supported his plans to gut family planning services. It’s time for new voices in Trenton who will stand with the women of our district and our state.”
The Christie budget cuts led to the closing of five women’s health clinics, according to Planned Parenthood.
The Democrats cited nine votes by Bramnick and eight by Munoz to cut women’s health and family planning funding.
Munoz voted to support funding family planning in committee last year but questioned why Planned Parenthood should receive any of the proposed $7.5 million appropriation.
Munoz criticized the group for being too political and said that as a candidate for re-election in 2017, she promised to support funding for family planning.
“I stated that before my campaign and you still called me names,” Munoz said.
At a meeting of the Assembly Budget Committee, Munoz pressed for information about Planned Parenthood’s New Jersey revenues and executive compensation, but the organization’s executive direction, Christine Sadovy, declined to answer the assemblywoman’s questions.
“I’m happy to share information about health services, but I’m not going to share information about employee salaries or other personnel issues,” Sadovy said.
Munoz said Planned Parenthood lacked transparency.
“We need as a budget committee to understand where the money is going and who is getting that money,” the five-term assemblywoman said.
When the bill to restore funding reached the Assembly floor, Munoz said she had no choice but to abstain because Planned Parenthood wouldn’t answer he questions.
“It would be irresponsible for me to vote on this if we do not know where this money is going,” Munoz said during a debate on the measure last year.
Bramnick did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday at 6:38 PM.
According to Project VoteSmart, a non-partisan group that tracks ratings on candidates across the U.S., Bramnick and Munoz received 100% ratings from New Jersey Right to Life and 0% from Planned Parenthood.
Bramnick and Munoz Family Planning votes