Insider NJ

NJ Citizen Action: Groups Instrumental In Andy Kim Win Detail The Role Health Care Played In The Campaign

Insider NJ — November 19, 2018

By Insider NJ

Highland Park — Today organizations that played a key role in the defeat of Republican Tom MacArthur (NJ03) gathered for a tele press conference discuss the role health care played in their campaigns. MacArthur crafted legislation that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act, stripped 23 million people of coverage, deprived 130 million Americans with pre-existing condition of protection under the law, and sent premiums for older American skyrocketing. He was also the only member of the New Jersey congressional delegation to vote twice for tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations that would lead to massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security while double-taxing New Jersey families.

"Tom MacArthur led the fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act," said Ann Vardeman, program director of New Jersey Citizen Action. "Once he did that we set out to ensure the voters of New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District held him accountable for trying to take health care away from 23 million Americans. And once his constituents learned that it was their Congressman who had spearheaded the attempt to endanger preexisting conditions protections for millions of Americans and strip 500,000 New Jerseyans of their health care they were horrified and they were motivated to get to the polls."

Tom MacArthur won the 3rd Congressional District by 20 points in 2016, and his seat was at one point rated the 2nd safest Republican seat in New Jersey. But dozens of grassroots organizations and hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly for over a year to educate constituents on Tom MacArthur's voting record on healthcare and taxes. The groups staged rallies, protests and media events, released reports, made phone calls and knocked on doors, reaching tens of thousands of voters in the district. NJCA built an independent, multi-faceted campaign that included paid media, earned media, voter contact, and grassroots power to fuel their campaign to defeat MacArthur and elect Andy Kim.

"CWA has more members in the Third District than any other competitive House district in the country this year. And they were outraged to learn that Tom MacArthur took extraordinary steps to destroy health care for millions of Americans, all to provide tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy," said Seth Hahn, Legislative and Political Director for CWA New Jersey. "Whether on the doors, on the phones, or in discussions at worksites, the one thing that resonated the most — particularly with members who had supported Tom MacArthur in the past — was telling the story of MacArthur's record on health care."

"New Jersey health care voters worked tirelessly to get out the vote and send Andy Kim, a healthcare champion, to Congress — proving once again that grassroots organizing is the key to victory," said Milly Silva, Executive Vice President, SEIU 1199. "This election has shifted our country's health care debate in a way that will have a lasting impact. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act is now off the table and Andy Kim and his House colleagues will be able to veto any Republican effort to reduce crucial funding to Medicaid and Medicare."

The focus on healthcare worked, with MacArthur unable to shake the label of the Trump ally who had engineered the ACA repeal attempt. The contest between Kim and MacArthur began with MacArthur favored. But ultimately the grassroots groups helped Kim win 50 percent of the vote in the 3rd Congressional District, forcing MacArthur to concede a week after the election. Healthcare voters were a critical part of the blue wave that swept through New Jersey and across the country, flipping four of five New Jersey Republican Congressional seats and the House of representatives.

"As a Health Care Voter co-chair I repeatedly saw the effects that Republican attempts to take health care away from millions of Americans did to motivate those same voters to the polls," said Laura Packard, Health Care Voter co-chair and cancer survivor. "Health Care Voter we sought to harness that energy to fight back against GOP health care sabotage by moving a million Americans to the polls to vote for candidates like Andy Kim, who would protect our health care instead of attacking it."

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