Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kurkowski on LoBiondo's Record: Seniority

Dave Kurkowksi's 2008 challenge to Frank LoBiondo was unsuccessful, but some of his criticisms were very important, so I think they are worth preserving. This is one of Kurkowski's press releases, in which he points out Lobiondo's claims of seniority are exaggerated at best.


Democratic challenger Dave Kurkowski reacted with surprise to the statements of his opponent, Frank LoBiondo, in last Sunday’s Gloucester County Times, where LoBiondo and his supporters claimed he would be more effective than Kurkowski due to his “seniority.”

“At best this is pure bluster, at worst it is outright manipulation,” Kurkowski said. “My opponent has been ranked as the least effective member of Congress from the entire state of New Jersey1 and he appears to be trying to manipulate voters into thinking he is more effective simply because he’s been in Washington so long,” Kurkowski said. “The truth is that the seniority system was eliminated by his own Newt Gingrich Republicans years ago.”

The seniority system rewarded members of Congress with power and influence according to how long they had remained in Washington. Under the reform rules adopted by Newt Gingrich and the 1994 Republicans, including LoBiondo, party leaders choose who will receive important positions based on their effectiveness, regardless of seniority. And “effective” is not a word that can be used to describe Frank LoBiondo. “My opponent’s ineffectiveness is staggering,” Kurkowski said. “He can’t run on his record, because he does not have one. In 14 years he has succeeded in authoring only three pieces of legislation that became law.2 Fourteen years and three laws—it boggles the mind. What is he doing down there in Washington?”

“LoBiondo is talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to his status in Congress.” Kurkowski said. “On the one hand he points to ‘seniority’ as a bogus claim to his ‘effectiveness’…and on the other hand he hides behind anonymity as a way to avoid accepting accountability for his ineffectiveness.” LoBiondo recently told constituents on a telephone conference call that his excuse for being ineffective was that he was “just one of 435” members of Congress. “He wants it both ways, and after 14 years, enough is enough,” Kurkowski said. “This is political double-talk at its worst.”

The Democratic challenger also pointed to the fact that LoBiondo justified breaking his term limit pledge by saying he would be more effective if he stayed in Washington longer. “This is embarrassing,” Kurkowski said. “The people of South Jersey deserve better. In these difficult times, with a sinking economy, an energy crisis, and an unsafe world, we can’t depend on somebody who’s so completely ineffective.” LoBiondo was not only ranked last among New Jersey members of Congress—behind many other Representatives who have shorter tenures and lesser “seniority”— he also ranked a dismal 377th in the House of Representatives.3

“He can’t do much about jobs from 377th place,” Kurkowski said. “He can’t do much about gas prices from 377th place. He can’t do much about the threat of terrorism from 377th place. And he can’t do much for South Jersey from his spot dead last among our entire state Congressional delegation.”

In fact, LoBiondo was demoted on the Coast Guard subcommittee, which he chaired for years under Republican majorities. Rather than serving as the ranking minority member after his party lost control of Congress in 2006, he was bumped down to fifth place. HE WAS NOT REWARDED FOR HIS YEARS HEADING THE COAST GUARD COMMITTEE. IF ANYTHING, HE WAS PUNISHED. “As I will be making clear in the days to come, Kurkowski said, “this is probably due to the fact that during his time as Chairman he oversaw the ‘Deepwater’ fiasco that cost taxpayers over $20 billion.”

Kurkowski has challenged LoBiondo to a series of public debates in order to question him on his record, as well as his disastrous lack of oversight on the Deepwater program —which provoked national attention and an intensely critical investigation by the Government Accountability Office.4 Kurkowski is planning the first of a series of news conferences to reveal the truth about Frank LoBiondo’s failed political tenure. Details of time and place will be forthcoming.

A successful businessman and member of the Cape May City Council, Kurkowski is leading the first serious challenge to LoBiondo.

Here are the footnotes:

1 (accessed September 8, 2008). The Congressional Power Rankings are non-partisan measures that take into account a Politician’s standing in Congress; committee and subcommittee rankings; success with advancing legislation and amendments; indirect influence in caucuses and by other means; and other factors. For full details, see (accessed September 8, 2008).

2 H.R. 170, 106th Congress, “The Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act.” Signed by the President Dec. 12, 1999; became Public Law No. 106-168. The third bill is H.R. 171, 106th Congress, “To extend the authorization for the Coastal Heritage Trail in the State of New Jersey.” Signed by the President on April 8, 1999; became Public Law 110-18. Tally does not include symbolic resolutions or naming post offices.

3 (accessed September 8, 2008).

4 “Challenges Affecting Deepwater Asset Deployment and Management Efforts to Address Them,” June 2007. GAO-07-874.