ELECTIONS

Leonard Lance Faces an Emerging Threat in Seventh District

In New Jersey’s seventh district, incumbent congressman Leonard Lance (R-7) is facing a real challenge in the form of Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17). So much so that Democratic leaders have upgraded it to what they call an “emerging race” which means the party will likely pump more resources into Chivukula’s campaign. Rep. Leonard lance spoke with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider about his election chances and where he stands on issues like tax reform, the Second Amendment and drilling off the Jersey coast.

Lance expressed confidence in his reelection campaign, pointing to his understanding of the district he represents. “Voters in the district believe in fiscal responsibility and trying to get this country back on the straight and narrow and creating more jobs,” he said.

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His support of the GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney goes back to 2008. But regardless of the outcome, he said the country will have to move forward after November 6 and that will require bipartisan cooperation.

When asked about the Paul Ryan budget plan which some economists say will hurt New Jersey, Lance countered that Ryan is at least addressing the issue of the budget, which is more than what the U.S. Senate has done.

“I think its an honest proposal and I think Paul Ryan would be an adult at the table regarding issues of importance including preserving medicare,” said Lance. “The Senate has not proposed a budget in more than three years not a good not a bad budget no budget.”

According to Lance, the inaction by the Senate is a tactical move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in order to avoid criticism of any budget that passed. “I would have preferred that the senate passed a budget and under the normal course of business the house and the senate would meet in a conference committee and the differences would be negotiated. The chance of that happening, he said is “not likely at all in this composition of the United States Senate.”

Accused by his opponent of flip flopping on the issue of gun control, Lance says he has always been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. “I think it is an individual right as well as related to a militia. Those are the views of the residents of the district I serve, the district in which I live,” he said.

While he opposes raising taxes on anyone, he said he favors a complete reform of the current tax code which would result in fewer deductions and affect upper income filers. And he cited precedent, saying “the great reform of 1986 had two rates 15 percent and 28 percent and that was based upon bipartisan cooperation

Lance has been quoted as saying that he would like to see more excavation or drilling for oil, just not off the Jersey coast. He defers that decision largely to the governor, saying “The governor of New Jersey does not favor that and I think he and the state officials should have some influence in such a decision and the New Jersey delegation is a relatively united on that issue.”

Having watched Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last night, Lance praised both the First Lady and Anne Romney. Expressing his pride for Gov. Christie, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan at the Republican National Convention, Lance said he is looking forward to President Obama’s remarks on Thursday.

“I do think that we’re not in as a good a situation as we were four years ago — unemployment is higher, the debt is much higher and average family incomes in this country are down by several thousands [of} dollars. I hope to be part of a new direction with the election of Mitt Romney on November 6.”