GOP candidates accuse Dems at round table discussion Tuesday
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Rape shield laws, concessions for working mothers, and sales tax-free breast reconstructive surgery may sound like ideas from the left side of the aisle.
But Republican Senate Challenger Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt has come out in support of legislation like this in New Jersey. So have her running mates for Assembly; Kristine Gabor and Sam Fiocchi.
What’s more, Republicans say Democrats in Trenton are blocking those initiatives for political reasons.
During a women’s round table discussion at the Bellevue Tavern in Cape May Court House Tuesday, the Republican candidates were joined by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth). Both Allen and Casagrande have sponsored and supported legislation in Trenton that address “family issues” like legislation that makes employers allow new working mothers to take breast-feeding breaks or helps promote mentor programs for women who want to get to the top of a company.
“We don’t have enough women to push these things through,” Allen said before the discussion. According to the Republicans, the state Legislature is 30 percent female.
Allen said that because of that, she was supporting Adelizzi-Schmidt, Gabor, and Fiocchi in the race for 1st District seats.
Adelizzi-Schmidt is the first woman to run for state Senate in this district. She called her decision one that breaks “through a glass ceiling.”
"Suffrage ended over 80 years ago," she said. "So it’s about time that suffrage ended here in the 1st Legislative District."
Adelizzi-Schmidt and her running mates said they plan to support Allen’s “Family First” legislation, which would reward employers who offer day care, sick leave, more flexibility, and offer training programs for women to advance in the workplace.
Allen also spoke about legislation like the Family First act that has been bottlenecked in Trenton. She supports a bill that would allow women who have battled breast cancer to receive reconstructive breast surgery free of sales tax. Other proposed legislation would allow victims of sexual assault to place a child up for adoption without notifying the man who raped them, as well as bar their rapists from having parental rights.
“The Republican party has advanced the causes of women,” Sue Sheppard, Cape May County Surrogate, said during the discussion portion of the round-table.
Allen said in Times of Trenton op-ed July 17 that Sen. Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) has offered support for some of the legislation proposed by Republicans, but hasn’t been able to garner support among other Democrats to bring them to a vote in the state Senate.
In that same piece, she claims that the Democrats are quietly pushing this legislation aside so they can “try to convince voters that Democrats are the only advocates for women in Trenton.”
In an interview Tuesday, Weinberg said that those accusations were “ridiculous.” She added that she would be willing to work with Allen to bring these pieces of legislation back to the table with post requests for public hearings.
“There are too few of us women legislators for us to get into a public squabble over common women’s issues,” she said.
Sen. Jeff Van Drew also said he would be in support of legislation like this moving forward, but that Sen. Allen should be reaching across the aisle, rather than going to the press, to get things done.
“Anybody with a heart is supportive of legislation like that,” he said. “If anybody asked me to help with them I’d be willing to help to get them through.”
Van Drew said that there are a record number of women now in the legislature, and a majority of them are Democrats. But, he added that Trenton has historically been unsupportive of women’s issues.
“In the legislature, they’re known not to be supportive of women’s issues,” he said.
Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt was originally misquoted in this story. The quote has been changed to accurately reflect a recording of the campaign event.