Joseph Rudy Rullo wants to be the next governor of New Jersey. The Republican from Ocean County is an entrepreneur who has never held elected office—though he did call himself one of the “hardest working” Republican operatives in his area—but he thinks he is the right man to remedy the woes that are plaguing the state.
“I haven’t been a rank-and-file, good old boy network Republican and have actually come out against corruption,” said Rullo. “We basically are number one in property taxes, in people leaving the state. We are number one cost for road projects and bridges and we are one of the most corrupt political systems in the country. How can New Jersey fail and keep the broken system for so many years? I just want to fix it.”
According to Rullo, a number of reforms in the state could be made to remedy issues that are making New Jersey expensive. Rullo said that fixing those issues for the future of the state is one of the main reasons he decided to run for office.
“I got involved because it really upsets me that a lot of my friends and family, business associates and classmates from school are leaving New Jersey because they have lost their quality of life,” Rullo said. “They can’t afford to live in New Jersey.”
Unlike many of his Republican contemporaries in the state, Rullo fully supports the legalization of marijuana, citing the success in Colorado and Washington where the use has been legalized. According to Rullo, taxing and regulating the use of the drug would have a number of positive impacts on the state. He says that it would provide funds due to the tax revenue the sales would generate, get drug dealers off the street and reduce state spending on police due to the decreased need for drug-related manpower.
“Think about the amount of underground, black market revenue that there is in marijuana sales,” said Rullo. “We would be able to put them all out of business overnight. We would be able to regulate the marijuana, make sure it is safe. The reason I am for this is because it is common sense.”
Another thing that Rullo said needs fixing in the state is the amount needlessly spent on school administrations. While he said that funding things that directly impact kids are critical, Rullo said that the number of superintendents needs to be reduced drastically. Instead of having one superintendent per school district, Rullo suggests cutting the number to one per county. He also wants to eliminate municipal tax assessors and ensure that “no-show” high-salary jobs are not being created (he cited the Port Authority’s David Wildstein as an example). In addition, Rullo said he also wants to reform pensions, reform the Veterans Affairs healthcare system in the state and that he supports Senator Mike Doherty’s fair school funding plan.
“I want to reduce the size of government but I am not just going to sit here and say I am going to lower them. I have some ideas,” said Rullo. “By essentializing superintendents, I think we can save $50 million per year. We can buy books, we can have more teachers, we can lower property taxes.“
As the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) continues to dwindle, Rullo said that making smart cost reductions like the ones he has proposed and increasing revenue through legalized marijuana and other steps, the state could flourish. Rullo is opposed to raising the gas tax in order to fund the TTF.
In 2012, Rullo ran for Senate off the party line against Joe Kyrillos (R-13) and lost in the primary. His gubernatorial run will also likely be off of the party line due to his somewhat outsider status in the state’s general party. For Rullo, however, that outsider status should not be a hindrance.
“I think that I have the issues right,” Rullo said. “The politicians that are running against me aren’t going to be able to support the issues because either they’re in or because of conflicts.”
Rullo cited Donald Trump—who he is supporting for president—as an example of an outsider candidate who has been able to gain momentum. He said he plans to do the same in New Jersey for his gubernatorial run.
The gubernatorial elections are just under two years away and Rullo is the first Republican candidate to officially announce he will be pursuing the position after Governor Chris Christie’s term ends. Rullo said he decided to announce early due to the fact that his campaign will be a “grassroots” effort and the increased time frame will allow him to put his name out there, spread his message and, hopefully, build support.
“I am going to campaign. I am going to do that in every county, in every town and on every social media crack and cranny that is out there,” Rullo said. “Already my presence is all over the place.”