Parental rights dominating 4th district campaign

August 11, 2023

New Jersey Globe

By Ricky Suta

Republicans launch Five-Point Contract with South Jersey Parents; Moriarty calls it ‘fanning the flames of extremist culture wars’

Seeking to flip South Jersey seats Democrats have held for the last twenty years, Republican legislative candidates in the 4th district are doubling down on support for parental rights issues, unveiling their “Five-Point Contract with South Jersey Parents.”

Senate candidate Chris Del Borrello and Assembly nominees Matt Walker and Amanda Esposito have made the empowerment of parents on sex education issues and support for law enforcement cornerstones in their campaign.

But the Democratic Senate candidate, nine-term Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Washington), sharply rebuked the plan as a MAGA Manifesto, saying Del Borrello and his team should instead call their proposal “Radicals Oath to Bring Southern MAGA Republican Politics to New Jersey.”

“Clueless Chris Del Borrello doesn’t have an original thought in his brain.  Division, fear, and fanning the flames of extremist culture wars are all he’s got,” said Moriarty.  “Someone must ask Chris if the Fourth District Republicans borrowed their playbook from the Mississippi Republican gubernatorial campaign.”

The Republican plan unveiled today includes:

  • Support legislation that would require curricula to be given to parents or guardians in advance for review and allow them to opt their children out of any curriculum that conflicts with their conscience or highly held moral or religious beliefs;   
  • Block Attorney General Matt Platkin’s directive to prohibit teachers and school staff from disclosing a student’s change in their gender identity;   
  • Support legislation that segregates school sports based on biological sex;   
  • Repeal legislation that allows individuals under 21 to walk away from a police officer who is questioning them about marijuana or alcohol use; and   
  • Allow parents to claim a religious exemption from childhood vaccinations and oppose any effort to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for New Jersey public school children.

Some proposals come from support of legislation already introduced in Trenton by Republican lawmakers.

These issues have received increasing attention following the controversial State Board of Education vote that approved the equity code, eliminating many instances of gendered language in the State code. That vote has injected fresh debate over education policy and who determines what is best for students, parents, and educators.

“Parents should always be at the center of their child’s education, and that requires a high level of transparency between school districts and parents when it comes to curriculum being taught in the classroom,” said Del Borrello.  “Even better, by electing a career educator like Amanda Esposito to the Assembly, we can take legislation like this and make sure the final version of it works for parents and teachers, who need to have a cooperative, open relationship.”

Moriarty disagrees with the premise of Del Borrello’s complaints.

“New Jersey has the best schools in the nation because parents have always had a strong voice in education matters,” he said. “We’ve empowered parents and local districts with sound policies and well-established processes to ensure they can decide what is best for their students.”

And Moriarty refuses to allow Del Borrello, a former Washington Township councilman, to label him anti-parental rights.

“I’ve always stood on the side of parental rights,” Moriarty said. “I spoke out against the State Board of Education’s Equity Code Vote. I demanded their membership return to the drawing board and find a reasonable consensus after deep, thoughtful partnership between educators, parents, and students that will be impacted.”

Del Borrello, Walker, and Esposito are betting that social issues will resonate with swing voters in a district that Gov. Phil Murphy lost by five percentage points in 2021—and perhaps motivate their Republican base to participate in the fall midterm elections, where voter turnout is traditionally light.

Esposito, who will begin teaching at Pitman High School in the fall – the New Jersey Education Association is backing her Democratic opponents – called Platkin’s position “extremely troubling.”

“Forcing teacher’s keep secrets from parents about their own children flies in the face of common sense and certainly is not something the vast majority of teachers I know would be comfortable doing.

Using biological gender to determine eligibility for school sports is one of “competitive fairness and safety,” said Walker, a union leader and former Buena council president.

“This is an issue of competitive fairness and safety,” Walker said.   “As children mature, and certainly by the time they are in middle school and high school, allowing boys, who are bigger, faster, and stronger than girls, to compete against each other should not be allowed.”

Moriarty calls Del Borrello a “rubber stamp for radical extremist policies.”

“He is out of touch with the needs of South Jersey residents, is in over his head on economic issues impacting our region, and does not have a plan to tackle real problems facing our state,” he said.  “This contract is a preview of the Mississippi and Kentucky-style MAGA Republican politics they’ll bring to New Jersey if elected.

Sex education emerging as issue in 4th district Senate race

August 9, 2023

New Jersey Globe

By Ricky Suta

Del Borrello promises to use senatorial courtesy to block school board member who voted to change gender language rules; Moriarty stops short of agreeing

The Republican candidate for State Senate in the 4th district is using a state Board of Education member from South Jersey to highlight his opposition to controversial new gender identity rules – and to remind voters that he would become the first Republican in two decades to exercise senatorial courtesy in Camden County.

Christopher Del Borrello pledged to block the renomination of Elaine Bobrove, a retired educator and union leader from Haddon Township who voted to segregate sex education classes based on gender identity and eliminate multiple instances of gendered language from the state’s education code if Gov. Phil Murphy seeks to renominate her to a second term.

The proposal, which passed on a narrow 6-5 vote, could be a politically hot issue that Republicans can capitalize on before the November midterm election.

“The six members of the State Board of Education, including Ms. Bobrove from Camden County, who voted ‘yes’ for this nonsense should never be reappointed, and any Republican senator who can prevent that should,” Del Borrello said.  “If I am elected to the State Senate in November, I can promise 4th legislative district residents today that any attempt to reappoint Ms. Bobrove to the State Board of Education when her term expires will fail.”  

The move may be simply symbolic, since Bobrove is 85 years old and can remain on the state board as a holdover.     

Del Borrello’s opponent, nine-term Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Washington Township), told the New Jersey Globe that he opposes the Board’s equity code.

“Four days ago, I demanded the BOE go back to the drawing board and stop mandating policy to the entire state without getting input from parents and educators, who are the most important actors in a student’s education,” Moriarty said in a statement. “I’m happy Del Borrello agrees with me that the BOE got it wrong and that they need to correct their course. As an assemblyman or a senator, I will always hold boards and individual members of government accountable to the people of this state and especially to the parents of school children.”  

“I’m glad Chris is reading my Facebook posts, so he knows what issues to weigh in on,” he added.

Although he has been forceful in denouncing the State Board of Education’s policy, Moriarty did not comment on whether he would use senatorial courtesy to block Bobrove.

Del Borrello’s attack shows that sex education could be a potent election issue this year, especially in a Camden-Gloucester district that was redrawn to be much more competitive; a similar strategy worked for the GOP in Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election. But it’s also significant that Del Borrello is injecting senatorial courtesy, an unwritten rule that gives senators veto power over nominees from their home counties and any towns that they represent, into the election.

“The choice voters have before them this November is crystal clear,” said Del Borrello, a former Washington Township councilman who now lives in Camden County. “You can vote Republican, protect the rights of parents, and push back against the extreme, far-left nonsense coming out of Trenton, or you can vote for Democrats and accept the outlawing of gender-specific language in our schools and paving the way for biological boys to compete against biological girls in sports.”

This focus signals to voters – and, perhaps more importantly, to donors – that Del Borrello will be a strong check on any Camden County nominee from the Murphy administration. The idea that members of the entrenched Democratic machine led by powerhouse George E. Norcross III would need the approval of Del Borrello potentially galvanizes the base of both parties.

If he wins, Del Borrello would have veto power over all Camden County nominees; every county judgeship would be subject to his approval. Moreover, if he and other South Jersey GOP candidates are successful, Republicans will have senatorial courtesy in eight counties in South Jersey.

Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said Del Borrello’s focus on senatorial courtesy is “curious.”

“He is looking to be a disruptive force to shake things up,” he said.

A Del Borrello win would further accentuate the gains made by Republicans in South Jersey over the last four years while emphasizing a decline for Democrats in the region.

Changing demographics and legislative redistricting have made the 4th district one of the most closely watched contests in the state.

As 20-year-incumbent Fred Madden (D-Washington Township) retires, both parties see their political fortunes tied to this campaign. South Jersey Democrats view the Moriarty vs. Del Borrello race as critical to showing their vitality, while Republicans see it as a key avenue to expand their political prospects into formerly solid Democratic territory. 

The district is no stranger to competitive races; when Madden challenged State Sen. George Geist (R-Gloucester Township), it was the most expensive legislative campaign in state history up to that point – and was decided by a mere 63 votes.

Rasmussen said that the 4th district will be in the “very top tier” of races for Republicans and Democrats, along with the adjacent 3rd district, where State Sen. Ed Durr (R-Logan) unexpectedly ousted Senate President in 2021. Durr now faces former Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro), who lost his bid for an eleventh term two years ago.

“Republicans think they can make gains, but Democrats also believe they can reverse the damage and make gains,” Rasmussen said.

Senatorial courtesy

Steady gains in South Jersey Senate races have enabled Republicans to build a red wall of courtesy, forcing Murphy to bargain with GOP senators – as well as Democrats – on state government nominations.

Republicans flipped the Atlantic County Senate seat in 2017 after a decade of Democratic occupancy, and won Jeff Van Drew’s old Cape May-Cumberland seat in a 2019 special election. Durr’s upset over Sweeney shifted courtesy in Gloucester and Salem to the GOP; Republicans, who briefly lost courtesy in Burlington when State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) switched parties in early 2019, won it back after beating Addiego in 2021.

This year, however, Democrats can tear down big pieces of that red wall of courtesy as they contest Senate seats in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 8th districts.

Del Borrello vows to block reappointment of Murphy’s State Board of Ed ally if elected to Senate

August 8, 2023

Save Jersey

By Matt Rooney

Parental rights remains front-and-center as New Jersey’s 2023 legislative elections near the final fall push, and in battleground LD4 (Gloucester, Camden, Atlantic), the GOP Senate nominee is vowing to take decisive action if elected.

Chris Del Borrello (R-Washington Township) says he’ll actively block and effectively doom the reappointment of New Jersey State Board of Education Member Elaine Bobrove upon the expiration of her current term. Garden State senators routinely exercise “senatorial courtesy,” an informal and unwritten but universally recognized right to block gubernatorial nominees who reside in their home districts.

Last week, the Board voted narrowly – 6 to 5 – to eliminate gendered nouns and pronouns from the “Managing for Equality and Equity in Education” Chapter of the state’s Administrative Code among other radical changes. Last year, Murphy replaced three board members who had been reluctant to support his far-Left education policies.

“The six members of the State Board of Education, including Ms. Bobrove from Camden County, who voted ‘yes’ for this nonsense should never be reappointed, and any Republican Senator who can prevent that, should,” said Del Borrello. “Moreover, her refusal to allow additional time for public comment shows a disrespect for parents that has become par-for-the-course in Trenton. If I am elected to the State Senate in November, I can promise 4th Legislative District residents today that any attempt to reappoint Ms. Bobrove to the State Board of Education when her term expires will fail.”

Del Borrello also singled out his opponent, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, for refusing to speak out when he had the chance.

“The choice voters have before them this November is crystal clear,” said Del Borrello, the father of four young children. “You can vote Republican, protect the rights of parents and push back against the extreme, far-left nonsense coming out of Trenton, or you can vote for Democrats and accept the outlawing of gender-specific language in our schools and paving the way for biological boys to compete against biological girls in sports. Elections always have consequences and this year’s elections will have massive and long-lasting ones for parents, children, teachers, and our educational system in New Jersey if Democrats prevail. When I am out knocking on doors, I am making this very clear to voters and will continue to do so heading into the fall.”

Del Borrello and Moriarty are competing for an open seat currently held by a retiring Democrat, Fred Madden.

NJEA disses female Republican teacher in battleground LD4

August 7, 2023

Save Jersey

By Matt Rooney

New Jersey (Mis)Education Association endorsements may not mean much to Save Jersey readers, but they do tell us something about the state of play heading into a general election.

On Saturday, the NJEA issued its list of fall legislative endorsements which included only 10 Republicans across all 40 districts. Only four of those Republicans (three of which are incumbents) are running in battleground districts, and concessions to the GOP in those districts – LD2 and LD8 – strongly suggest that the Democrat coalition’s hopes of retaking territory in either are waning. In fact, Democrats just swapped out their LD2 candidate.

The South Jersey Democrat Alamo for Election 2023 is clearly LD4 (Gloucester, Camden, and a sliver of Atlantic) where Democrats are defending an open Senate seat in a swing district that grew redder in redistricting. The NJEA stuck with the Machine this year, endorsing Paul D. Moriarty for Senate and Cody Miller and Dan Hutchison for Assembly.

In doing so, the teacher’s union snubbed one of its own members: Amanda Esposito, a Republican running for Assembly who is running alongside Senate hopeful Chris Del Borrello and fellow Assembly nominee Matt Walker.

“As a career educator and current public school teacher, I respectfully know more about the current state of public education and the issues facing students, teachers, and parents in New Jersey schools than our three opponents combined,” said Esposito, a Pitman middle school teacher, in a statement shared with this website. “Make no mistake, the decision by the NJEA’s political leadership to snub a young woman, a teacher, and an NJEA-member is a direct result of my support for parental rights and opposition to Attorney General Matt Platkin’s decision to force teachers to keep secrets from parents about their own kids; and my opposition to age-inappropriate sex-ed curriculum standards. We should be empowering parents, not pushing them away. We should be educating our children, not indoctrinating them.”

Esposito also accused the notorious public sector union of having mixed up priorities. It’s a hard point to dispute given that NJEA spent $52.6 million on Trenton lobbying alone between 2000 to 2022.

“Frankly, I don’t believe the NJEA’s political leadership shares the values of an overwhelming number of their own members,” added the candidate. “They are out-of-step and out-of-touch, but a lot of people are afraid to speak out against them. Hopefully, their treatment of me encourages more people to make their voices heard. Teachers deserve an organization focused on what’s best for teachers and students, not one that has become focused on what’s best for its top brass and the extreme political ideology they embrace and seek to force upon the rest of us.”

A point Esposito didn’t raise: the NJEA spends a ton of time touting the important of diversity, too, but just endorsed three white guys in LD4. Guess we know how sincere all of those talking points actually are!

LD4 Republicans hit Moriarty over offshore wind tax credit vote

July 17, 2023

New Jersey Globe

By Joey Fox

Moriarty hits back, says Republicans are fighting against South Jersey jobs

Republicans in the 4th legislative district have begun attacking Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Washington), who is running for the district’s Senate seat this year, over his recent vote for a bill allowing the offshore wind company Ørsted to access substantial federal tax credits.

“This is a classic ‘Robin Hood in Reverse’ scheme that screws local ratepayers to bail out a multi-billion-dollar company,” said Chris Del Borrello, a former Washington Township Councilman and the Republican Senate nominee in the 4th district. “What was Paul Moriarty thinking? Or better yet, follow the money.”

The offshore wind farms currently in the early stages of construction along the Jersey Shore have long been the subject of intense debate in New Jersey politics. Democrats, most prominently Gov. Phil Murphy, have said offshore wind development is a necessary part of the fight against climate change; Republicans have responded that wind farms would harm tourism along the Shore, and have connected the development to a spate of whale deaths earlier this year.

The battle came to a head in the state legislature over the Ørsted bill, which essentially gives the company federal tax credits that would have instead gone to ratepayers in New Jersey. Murphy signed the bill last week, shortly after it passed the legislature on a near-party line vote.

Only one Democrat voted against the bill: State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), who faces a competitive fight for re-election in a Monmouth County district that covers some of the most iconic parts of the Jersey Shore.

Moriarty’s district, on the other hand, isn’t particularly close to the ocean; in fact, it’s closer to the Paulsboro plant where wind turbines’ foundations will be built. But 4th district Republicans evidently see the issue as one that could energize inland voters as well.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this is going – Governor Murphy, Assemblyman Moriarty, and the Democrats are so obsessed with their far-left ideological agenda on energy policy that they are willing to force taxpayers to underwrite it, no matter how badly it fails,” Republican Assembly candidate Amanda Esposito said. “We’re running because we’ve had enough and believe South Jersey taxpayers have, too.”

In a statement responding to the attack, Moriarty said that Republicans are being foolish for criticizing something that will economically benefit South Jersey.

“Desperate Del Borrello is so pathetically reaching to find a way to be relevant that he is launching a tirade against federal tax credits that will create jobs and provide massive economic opportunities in South Jersey,” Moriarty said. “Today demonstrates that Chris Del Borrello is not on our side and shilling for the fossil fuel corporate interests by choosing big oil over South Jersey jobs.”