The Star-Ledger has endorsed Joe Biden for president, along with five congressional candidates. We’ve also taken a stand on two public questions. We pick races that are close, along with a few that stirred our strongest convictions.
Before we make our decisions, members of the editorial board conduct interviews, review debate performances and issue papers and invite all candidates to join us for a Zoom meeting. Please see the summary below, with links, along with a handful of columns by Tom Moran, the editorial page editor.
- President: We endorse former vice-president Joe Biden, our only hope to bring this nation together, sensibly deal with the virus, and offer aggressive answers to enormous problems like health care and climate change. President Trump is dangerous and unfit for office. He has torn the country apart by race, ethnicity, politics, and even mask-wearing. He is a danger to our democracy and has damaged our alliances as he cozies up to tyrants like Vladimir Putin.
- 2nd District: The incumbent, Rep. Jeff Van Drew, voted with Nancy Pelosi for two years, then switched parties and pledged “undying loyalty” to President Trump, a jaw-dropping stunt that reveals an absence of true conviction. We endorse Democrat Amy Kennedy, a retired schoolteacher with expertise in mental health and addiction.
- 7th District: We endorse Rep. Tom Malinowski, the Democratic incumbent, a centrist who has helped secure funding for the Hudson River tunnel project, and to protect people with pre-existing conditions. His opponent, state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., has run the most vile and dishonest campaign of the year in New Jersey, falsely charging Malinowski with protecting child predators. He would protect Big Pharma and drive up health costs.
- 3rd District: We endorse Rep. Andy Kim, the incumbent Democrat, is an energic freshman who sits on the House task force on the coronavirus and has been a potent force pushing for sensible policy, and a stalwart defender of Obamacare. His opponent is David Richter, is a wealthy businessman with little knowledge of public policy, a fanatic who says all Covid restrictions should be lifted immediately, and contact tracing efforts canceled.
- 5th District: Rep. Josh Gottheimer has distinguished himself as co-chair of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers Caucus” – a group of 50 House members that punches out constructive compromises, most recently offering a sensible plan for a second round of stimulus. We endorse him over challenger Frank Pallotta, a Wall Street executive with no elective experience. He’s been talking only to niche conservative media, where he plugs President Trump’s border wall, opposition to gun safety measures, and support for the 2017 tax cut that capped deductions for state and local taxes.
- 11th District: Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, is a centrist that her opponent, Rosemary Becchi, is hopelessly trying to paint as a left-wing radical. Sherrill is a centrist who opposes Medicare for All, but supports expanding Obamacare, and opposes the Green New Deal but supports tough climate change legislation. Becchi is the radical in this race. She would tear up gun safety law, ban abortion and kill Obamacare.
- Public Question #1: Legalize marijuana: More than half of American adults admit to having smoked pot, including our governor, Phil Murphy. Yet we are still arresting tens of thousands of people a year in New Jersey just for having weed. This is a grave injustice to Black people, who are disproportionately targeted, and a huge waste of law enforcement resources. It’s a mild drug, less harmful than booze — and like the prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s, our war on weed is failing. Vote “yes” to legalize marijuana for recreational use, for people aged 21 or older.
- Public Question #3: Redistricting: President Trump is trying to sabotage this year’s census by undercounting Democrats, minorities and immigrants. New Jersey could be forced to use those bad numbers to redraw the state’s political map for the next decade, since our Constitution sets out specific dates for each step. This proposed amendment would let the state avoid that by delaying the redistricting process. We urge a “yes” vote.
Tom Moran columns:
- Sen. Tom Kean wins this year’s award for sleaziest campaigner. He’s accused his opponent, incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, of protecting child sex predators, an outrageous charge that is provably false, one that Kean himself won’t stand up to defend. Kean’s reputation may never recover. This is politics at its worst.
- David Richter, a businessman with no political experience, would invite a second wave of the virus with reckless policy based on ideology. He would immediately lift all restrictions related to Covid-19, cancel efforts at contact tracing, and most testing. He says President Trump has done a great job with the virus, and that mask mandates violate the Constitution, though he can’t point to the clause. He’s not ready to serve, not even close.
- Rep. Jeff Van Drew tried to sell his soul but voters aren’t buying it. He’s the former Democrat who voted with Nancy Pelosi more than 80% of the time, then flipped parties and pledged “undying loyalty” to President Trump. Polls show voters believe he’s a fake who switched parties only to protect his career. They got that right.
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