Election preview: Taxes and health care the top issues in CD3 race

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

In the final days of the 2018 midterm elections, New Jersey finds itself in an unusual position. For the first time in decades, midterms in New Jersey are actually competitive. With the balance of power in the House at stake, New Jersey is being closely watched.

“I’m proud to stand with a president who has a different answer, a president who trusts the states and ultimately trusts the American people,” Rep. Tom MacArthur said in May 2017.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. South Jersey Congressman Tom MacArthur, in the Rose Garden, surrounded by the president and House Republican leadership, celebrating the House passage of a repeal and replace Obamacare bill, made possible by the so-called MacArthur amendment. The bill died in the Senate, however, and MacArthur – the only member of the New Jersey delegation to vote for the president’s tax plan – has been bludgeoned for his association with Trump ever since.

Democrat Andy Kim says health care is the main reason he got into the race. The former Obama administration official is probably well aware that health care was also the main concern among voters in the district, over 140,000 of whom are seniors.

Kim says MacArthur would be a Trump rubber stamp.

“He stands with his party leadership that he votes 94 percent in line with. He stands with them on attacking state and local tax deductions when he campaigned in 2014 to protect our property taxes,” Kim said.

MacArthur has countered by painting Kim as ineffectual and outside the mainstream.

“He’s lied about trying to make people feel like he was in the military. He’s changed his positions. He doesn’t answer questions. He offers anecdotes about Bob who said this, and he met Marie who said this. Those don’t solve problems,” MacArthur said.

Nick Corasaniti has been covering the race for the New York Times and says the tax bill and health care have been at the top of the issues list since the start of the race and have stayed there.

“I actually think this is the race that’s focusing the most on issues in all of New Jersey. Part of it is due to Rep. MacArthur’s actions. He authored the amendment to repeal the Affordable Care Act to get through the House and it failed in the Senate, and he’s the only New Jersey representative to vote for the tax bill. So those are two main issues, and Kim has really focused on that,” he said.

In 2016, Tom MacArthur got 60 percent of the vote. Nobody believes that the margin of victory this year will get close to double figures.