Lance Scores High on Bipartisan Index

May 3, 2018 news
Lance Scores High on Bipartisan Index


N.J. congressmen score high on bipartisan index


By  New Jersey Herald

Posted: Apr. 29, 2018 12:01 am

Though stringent party allegiances are certainly nothing new, it would be hard to deny that things in Washington have taken on a more personal tenor in recent months. With the primary season fast approaching, candidates across the country are struggling, some more publicly than others, to rectify the issues at hand with the politics at heart.

In New Jersey, two local representatives -- Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., and Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th Dist. -- have been recognized for their efforts to step across the political aisle and try to enact real change.

On Tuesday, the Lugar Center, a non-profit think tank that operates under the direction of former U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, released its annual bipartisan index that ranks members of Congress on their willingness to work across the political divide.

Gottheimer, ranked eighth overall on the index, was named as the most bipartisan Democratic freshman for 2017.

"I don't think either party has all of the answers all of the time," said Gottheimer, who is currently in the middle of a re-election campaign. "If your only objective is to vote along party lines, you're not there for the right reasons."

Lance, who has served the 7th District since 2009, placed 13th out of all 435 members.

"I think the best government is one that operates from the center out," said Lance, also seeking re-election. "That is how durable policy must be crafted and that is how I have always conducted myself."

Despite their occasional differences, the two North Jersey congressmen speak highly of each other and have collaborated on numerous occasions.

"Leonard and I have come together on a lot of key issues this year," Gottheimer said, ticking off bills ranging from infrastructure support to veterans affairs. Both men voted against President Trump's tax bill, and together worked to chair a bipartisan fix to save the state and local tax deduction.

"It's always a real discussion with him," Gottheimer said, speaking of Lance. "We both go in willing to listen to the other's opinions. That matters."

That communication and a willingness to compromise still have a role to play on the political stage is far from in dispute.

In an era so rife with identity politics and plenty of divisive rhetoric coming from either side of the fence, however, the question remains: Are party moderates like Gottheimer and Lance something of a dying breed?

"There is always going to be pushback from people who take an extreme view," Gottheimer said. "There will always be people who say that I am too conservative, too liberal, too whatever. I honestly believe we have to stand our ground and continue to fight for real change, and that's never going to happen if we let ourselves get caught up in trying to please 100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time."

Though Gottheimer won't be facing a challenger in the upcoming primary, Lance will be vying for his party's nomination over two other candidates in June.

Time will tell how New Jersey constituents really feel.

In the months leading up to the election, however, maybe it couldn't hurt for voters to reach over their own politics and engage in some of the same willing discourse as that of their elected representatives.