in June before the winner heads into the
general election against Lance, who won
the seat in 2008 after serving nearly two
decades in the state Legislature.
Though Lance has branded himself a
moderate, both challengers contend that
he has leaned right since going to Washington, a shift they say is out of touch with
a local electorate that supported Hillary
Clinton in 2016, albeit by a slim margin.
“He voted for concealed-carry reci-
procity and against funding for Planned
Parenthood,” Mandelblatt said over cof-
fee at Rock ’n Joe in Westfield. “He voted
67 times to repeal the Affordable Care
Act. He eventually voted against that,
but it took thousands of hours of people
protesting at his office.”
Lance has also voted against envi-
ronmental-protection legislation that
a majority in the district and the state
support, says Weber.
“I am clear after meeting with so many
people across the district that this is not
the representation people here want in
Congress,” she says. “I am very much in fa-
vor of funding the Environmental Protec-
tion Agency, funding Planned Parenthood,
supporting a woman’s right to control her
own health care choices. These are things
that Lance just doesn’t support.”
In response, Lance contends that
Weber and Mandelblatt support policies
like single-payer health care, free college
tuition and a $15 minimum wage. These
policies, says Lance campaign spokes-
man Jim Hilk, would lead to higher
taxes and fewer jobs in New Jersey.
( Weber and a Mandelblatt spokesperson
acknowledge that both women support
broader access to health care and more
affordable college; neither is calling for
a single-payer system or free tuition.
Weber supports the $15 minimum wage;
Mandelblatt supports a “living wage”
determined by local communities.)
“Whoever comes out of the Demo-
With a little less than a year left until
cratic primary will have to face a prin-
cipled fiscal conservative with a proven
record of standing up for New Jersey
taxpayers,” says a statement from the
the general election, the incumbents will
continue to have plenty of advantages.
But they’re also targets now, points out
Krista Jenkins, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University
and executive director of the PublicMind
Poll. Their voting records, says Jenkins,
will speak volumes about their priorities.
“When people are paying more atten-
tion,” says Jenkins, “that’s usually a pretty
good sign that perhaps we’re on the verge
of seeing something rather unique.”
CAWP’s Walsh agrees.
“By all conventional wisdom, these are
tough races,” she says. “But we have to
keep in mind, when we look at this election cycle, that much of what we know
about conventional wisdom is up in the air
now. There’s a lot of room for surprises.”
Sharon McCloskey is a freelance writer
based in Montclair.
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