Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jersey's No ATM

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jersey's No ATM

Article excerpt

PRESIDENTIAL candidates usually visit New Jersey just long enough to collect campaign cash at private fundraisers.

That makes perfect political sense. Our state's population is affluent, and by the time New Jersey's primary rolls around in June, party nominations are normally well secured. And with New Jersey voting Democratic in the last six presidential elections, there's little reason for candidates to campaign here in the fall.

This year, however, the normal pattern is being overturned by the success of GOP front-runner Donald Trump and the staying power of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. Notwithstanding big wins by Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's New York primary, the race for each party's presidential nomination still may be alive when New Jersey votes on June 7 -- that seems more than likely for Republicans.

And that's great for New Jersey voters, who will have a very good reason to go to the polls. For the five remaining major candidates - - Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich on the Republican side and Democrats Clinton and Sanders -- the likely importance of New Jersey presents a challenge.

So much about appealing to voters in a primary is the need to talk about local issues -- think ethanol during the Iowa caucuses. There are a number of New Jersey issues that cry out for a national perspective. And when candidates campaign here, they should address them.

New Jersey's roads and bridges are old, and many are in poor condition. A new rail tunnel is needed under the Hudson River, and mass transit options need to be expanded. Transportation long has been a federal concern, most famously when construction of the interstate highway system began during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. The candidates need to articulate what role the federal government should have in improving transportation in the nation's most populous states. …

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