Meet Gerry Cardinale: New Jersey's Mitch McConnell

By Stephen Yellin

A few days ago, I introduced you all to New Jersey's 39th Legislative District, and why it matters to New Jersey and the country at large in 2007. You can read the article at 59/993 . Today, I want to start tackling the opposition; for, even though NJ-39 has moved leftward, the incumbents have stayed on the far-right of the political spectrum. And that is especially true of Gerald "Gerry" Cardinale, the district's State Senator since 1981. In many ways, Cardinale is a New Jersey version of Mitch McConnell; arrogant, divisive, out of touch with political and social changes and blindly loyal to the special interests who back his campaigns. Cardinale's platform and values better echo 1907 than 2007, and today I'm going to show you why.

Denying New Jersey residents the potential to talk to their representatives (as Cardinale has proposed) in Trenton is one thing; actively attempting to deny rights and services to those residents is another thing entirely. Sadly, over the last 25 years Cardinale has opposed many pieces of legislation that are in line with mainstream progressive values - which the majority of New Jerseyans have. In many ways, he has resembled Mitch McConnell in his attempts to block positive ideas that would benefit the vast majority of New Jerseyans. Some examples include:

1.Stem Cell Research: Cardinale is opposed to embryonic stem cell research, parroting George Bush's position on the issue. He voted in 2005 against spending $150 million on stem cell research, and joined his fellow Republicans in 2005, 2006 and this year in voting against the state budget proposals. Altogether, if Cardinale had his way on this issue, New Jersey would have lost $165 million in stem cell funding in the last three years - and with it potential cures for illnesses that today plague millions of Americans.

2.GLBT Rights: New Jersey is slowly moving in the right direction on marriage equality, with civil unions now enforced statewide and with anti-discrimination laws in place. This is in no way thanks to Gerry Cardinale. He voted against domestic partnerships in 2004, and against civil unions in 2006. He even called the civil unions bill "anti-straight discrimination, pure and simple". Anti-straight?! How are granting rights and liberties to American citizens hurting the others? Oh, right, because they're gay - sorry Gerry "1907" Cardinale, I forgot.

3.A women's right to choose: Even on the statewide level, protecting a women's right to choose is an important issue for legislators. I personally was shocked when I found out that Cardinale opposes ALL abortions - even in the case of rape or incest. He apparently trumpeted his position when he ran for Congress in 2002, using it to attack one of his primary opponents (a moderate) as too liberal for the seat (it ultimately went to Scott Garrett, a man to the right of Attila the Hun - but that's another story), and he has not repented since. Such a position is far too extreme for a socially tolerant district like the 39th, and ought to be used to attack Cardinale on the airwaves.

Cardinale's 2002 campaign also featured his support for placing the 10 Commandments in public places; again, he has not changed his opinion since then. In this, too he is far more in line with Mitch McConnell than the average New Jersey voter. Indeed, Cardinale's staunch opposition to progressive legislation closely mirrors the US Senate Minority Leader's obstructionism on the national level.

And like Mitch McConnell, Gerry Cardinale's political career is in jeopardy. You can find out about his opponent, Democrat Joe Ariyan at . If Joe can get his and his team's message out amongst the public, then he will win. And we won't have Gerry Cardinale to kick around anymore.

Oh, and one last thing - NONE of the positions above are Gerry Cardinale's most extreme positions. But to know more about what makes Cardinale truly a dangerous State Senator, you'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Tags: 2007, abortion, Elections, Gerald Cardinale, Joseph Ariyan, legislature, new jersey, NJ-39, same-sex marriage, stem cell research (all tags)


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