Burlington County Times

First Lady Tammy Murphy Leads Anti-MacArthur Event In Burlington City

MacArthur is seeking a third-term representing the sprawling swing district, which includes most of Burlington County and a large swath of neighboring Ocean County. District voters supported President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2014 but favored President Donald Trump in 2016.

Burlington County Times — October 25, 2018

By David Levinsky

BURLINGTON CITY — New Jersey's first lady Tammy Murphy called on women to vote out Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur from his seat representing the state's 3rd Congressional District on Thursday, saying their votes can make the difference in the razor-tight race.

"We can absolutely make a difference, not just in our state but also in Washington, D.C.," Murphy said during a "Women Against MacArthur" news conference at the Friends Meetinghouse on High Street.

MacArthur is seeking a third term representing the sprawling swing district, which includes most of Burlington County and a large swath of neighboring Ocean County. District voters supported President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but favored President Donald Trump in 2016.

Murphy's husband, first year Gov. Phil Murphy, also failed to win the district last year in his race against Republican Kim Guadagno.

This year the district is labeled as a key pickup opportunity for the Democrats and their candidate Andy Kim, an Evesham native who served as a national security advisor in the Obama White House.

A new Monmouth University poll released Thursday gave Kim a slim 48-46 percent lead over the incumbent among likely voters, with just 3 percent still undecided. The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 5.2 percent, so the candidates are considered essentially tied.

An August poll from the university had MacArthur up 45-44 percent, also within the poll's margin of error.

The new poll gave Kim a 59-36 percent lead in Burlington County, which is home to the majority of the Democrats in the district. Conversely, MacArthur leads in the more Republican-friendly Ocean County by a margin of 60-34 percent.

"This race continues to be a tale of two districts. Right now the Democratic half of the district is running well ahead of past performance. The question is whether enough Trump supporters in the Republican portion will come out to offset it," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Thursday's news conference was organized by New Jersey Citizen Action, a progressive advocacy group that has targeted MacArthur for more than a year since he helped rescue GOP's effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by negotiating a deal with conservatives in his party that allowed the legislation to advance from the U.S. House.

While the repeal effort narrowly failed in the Senate, Kim and his allies have moved to harness Democratic anger surrounding the health care bill, as well as the GOP's successful federal tax overhaul, which created a $10,000 cap on the state and local taxes deduction claimed by many New Jersey taxpayers.

Murphy cited both issues during Thursday's event.

"The fact he helped give tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations in the one hand and repeal the Affordable Care Act on the other hand. That should be enough for all of us in the great state of New Jersey to say no way, no more," she said.

MacArthur campaign spokesman Chris Russell responded by pointing to the Murphy administration's handling of a sexual assault allegation by Katie Brennan, head of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, against Albert Alvarez, another top aide in the Murphy administration. Brennan has claimed she was assaulted by Alvarez in April 2017 when the two were both part of Murphy's gubernatorial campaign last year.

"We would suggest it takes a tremendous amount of chutzpah to do a press conference lecturing anyone about how women should be treated in light of what we learned about the inner workings of the Murphy campaign and administration in the last couple weeks," Russell said.

In addition to the first lady, the news conference featured several other speakers, including two cancer survivors from Burlington County.

Cinnaminson resident Val Mattern said she had good health insurance from her employer when she was first diagnosed with cancer nine years ago but that she's concerned because she now purchases health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchange. If the law is repealed, she's afraid she won't be able to afford coverage.

"Republicans have no plan (for health care.) There's not a thing they can agree on accept pull out the ACA," Mattern said. "I'm a mom, a grandma and a cancer survivor. Andy Kim gets this. Tom MacArthur doesn't have a clue. He wrote a bill insurance company would love."

MacArthur has steadfastly defended his role on the health care bill, arguing that while the Affordable Care Act succeeded in extending health coverage to millions of previously uninsured residents, millions more have remained uninsured because the law has caused costs to rise and limited coverage choices in many states.

Marcia Marley, president of Blue Wave New Jersey, said the incumbent rates poorly in other issues besides health care, including justice and civil rights, reproductive freedom and gun violence.

"MacArthur does not just get an 'F' on health care. He gets an 'F' on every issue that matters to women," Marley said.

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