There are five short weeks to go before the registered Republicans of New Jersey's 7th Congressional District will cast their votes in the primary race. Up until now, at every opportunity to gather, the candidates repeat the same canned speeches and tell us about all the money they have raised. Well I am not of the opinion that successful fundraising is a fair measure of a candidate.
Media coverage has been limited to a few short comments about each candidate and even fewer direct quotes from the candidates themselves. This is an election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Access to candidates should not be limited to websites and stump speeches. Shouldn't we have an opportunity to ask a few direct questions? What do these candidates know about local concerns and national issues? How are we to decide between the remaining six candidates?
It seems to me that the tax paying voters deserve an opportunity to have the candidates stand for a debate. Historically, elected officials have had to stand up and prove themselves worthy of a vote. Why should this race be any different? Are registered Republicans expected to make their decision without broader access to the candidates?
Maybe its time to ask our journalists to moderate a debate. I'd like to hear one good reason why this should not happen. If the candidates do not readily stand before us for a debate, how will we know if they can represent us? Failure to demand this basic forum indicates that we do not value strong representation for the 7th district. Do we want to have a weak candidate rival the Democrats in the general election?
I always considered registered Republicans to be serious about politics and their country. I cannot imagine why we haven't had more calls for access to the candidates. Let the candidates answer questions about their education, public service and dedication to our district. If they cannot stand before us then they do not belong in Washington, D.C.
No one should glide into a congressional seat. Votes should be earned. I would think that fellow registered Republicans would agree.
Bridget Roughneen is the mother of Republican congressional candidate Tom Roughneen.