Robert Turkavage, the first Republican to announce he is seeking the 2nd New Jersey Congressional District seat of retiring longtime GOP Representative Frank LoBiondo, isn’t afraid to call himself a moderate.
“That’s true,” he quickly answered when asked if he would accept that label.
That wasn’t surprising considering he had praised LoBiondo, a moderate Republican, in a statement announcing his own candidacy.
“For over 23 years, Congressman LoBiondo has served all of the residents of Southern New Jersey with honor and distinction,” wrote Turkavage.
He first established LoBiondo’s Republican credentials.
“LoBiondo was a true believer in the notion that the private sector, not the government, creates jobs and fosters economic growth. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, LoBiondo was a staunch defender of our military, both active and retired. LoBiondo’s efforts to improve the availability of services for our veterans are a testament to the fact that the plight of our veterans had a special place in LoBiondo’s heart.”
Turkavage then went on to show that LoBiondo, though a Republican, has been a defender of the environment.
“In matters relating to the environment, whether it was wetlands protection or his opposition to offshore drilling, LoBiondo always came down on the side of safeguarding our precious landscape and protecting our jobs.”
Finally Turkavage lauded LoBiondo’s independence.
“Though he was a strong believer in the principles of the Republican Party, Congressman LoBiondo did not hesitate to vote against his party when he believed that such a vote was in the best interests of his constituents and his country. One need only recall LoBiondo’s votes against the recent tax bill and the American Health Care Act (the attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare) for evidence of his independence and his desire to ‘do the right thing.’ In short, LoBiondo was part of a fleeting wave of moderation in a sea of polarization. His departure from Congress will leave behind a void that will be difficult to fill.”
Turkavage promises more of the same if elected to replace LoBiondo.
“I am seeking LoBiondo’s seat for three reasons.
“First, I believe that going forward, the residents of Southern New Jersey are entitled to the same level of representation to which they have become accustomed under LoBiondo. I share many of LoBiondo’s views on the economy and the environment. On national security, as a retired Supervisory Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I am acutely aware of the threats posed by our adversaries, both from Counterintelligence and Terrorism perspectives. I also share LoBiondo’s independence. Like LoBiondo, I would have voted an emphatic ‘No’ to the recently passed tax bill had I been a sitting member of the House. Like LoBiondo, I am adamantly opposed to any offshore drilling off the New Jersey coast.
“My second reason for seeking office pertains to governance and decorum. Members of our legislative and executive branches routinely make outlandish promises to the American public which they know will not be kept; insults and allegations are now traded between the parties and branches with regularity and increasing severity. The former causes disdain for our institutions, the latter only serves to push us down and apart. As a body, Congress has succumbed to legislating by majority control rather than by consensus. Should I have the honor to serve as Congressman, I cannot promise that I will change the divisive culture in Washington. I can only attest that I will not be a party to any dishonest or reprehensible behavior, and that I will be part of that ‘moderate wave’ that seeks consensus with the opposition in discharging our legislative responsibilities.
“My third, and most important reason for seeking elective office pertains to our children and the future of our country. Virtually all sectors of our economy (Financial, Pharmaceutical, Oil and Gas, etc.) are well served by lobbyists in Washington. Their combined efforts recently culminated in the passage of the tax reform legislation. This legislation, along with other recently enacted legislation and executive orders, primarily impacts the near-term needs of our country. Unfortunately, there is no measurable lobbying effort working on behalf of our children. We now have a national debt approaching $21 trillion, with $666 billion added in the last fiscal year and another $1.4-1.5 trillion in the pipeline. Irresponsible! Our social programs, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid continue to worsen, yet there is no discernable effort in Congress to address them. Willful blindness!”
Kasich Supporter, Reagan Fan
If Turkavage’s praise of LoBiondo and his pledge to become his congressional doppelganger doesn’t convince you he is a GOP moderate, consider this statement – “I’m in the John Kasich mode.”
Turkavage campaigned for the Ohio governor and presidential candidate in both New Hampshire and New Jersey and was instrumental in having Kasich’s name placed on the New Jersey ballot. Like Kasich, he believes in “fiscal restraint but taking care of people who can’t take care of themselves.”
Turkavage’s disdain for the recent tax cut legislation came through loud and clear in a SandPaper interview. And it wasn’t simply the typical complaint about taxpayers in high tax states such as New Jersey being hurt by a $10,000 federal deduction limit for state, local and property taxes. It was the timing.
“Tax cuts are good if the economy is bad,” he explained.
Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, Turkavage said, were made at a time when the unemployment rate was 7.4 percent (“don’t quote me on that, that’s from memory” – on the other hand, he wanted to be quoted when he said “Reagan is my hero”).
“But now, we have a 17-year low in unemployment.”
If the government spends money and grows the national debt during good times, the money won’t be there to stimulate the economy when bad times hit again.
“We’ll have one less tool if we have an economic disaster.”
Turkavage is also all in on Social Security and Medicare reform. But older voters don’t have to panic.
“Don’t make changes that will really hurt people who are already retired and those close to retirement,” he said, but concentrate on changes that will help folks who are “10, 15, 20 years away” from retiring.
Ex-FBI Special Agent, Ex-Senate Candidate
Turkavage, 63, lives in Brigantine with his wife and daughter, both named Sarah. He also has two children from a prior marriage.
He was an FBI special agent for 32½ years, rising to supervisory special agent of both the Public Corruption and Government Fraud squads in New York City. After the 9/11 attacks he was reassigned to supervise a newly created Office of Intelligence analytical squad.
In 2005, he retired from the FBI and became a vice president with JP Morgan Chase Bank in the Big Apple, where he was assigned to the Fraud Prevention Unit, protecting bank customers, especially the elderly, from schemes and scams. He retired after 7½ years with the bank.
Turkavage ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012 in New Jersey against incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez, garnering 3,532 votes. He also announced he was running in the GOP primary in the 2014 Senate race, which was eventually won by Democratic incumbent Cory Booker. However, he got stuck in a traffic jam as he attempted to turn in his petitions and had to withdraw after missing the deadline.
So, is Turkavage risking becoming a perennial candidate? Perhaps not.
Four Democrats have announced they’re running for LoBiondo’s seat, including a frontrunner, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a dentist who served as mayor of Dennis Township from 1994 to 1995 and 1997 to 2003. He also served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2002 to 2007 and has served in the state Senate since 2008.
But only two Republicans have announced at this time, Turkavage and Brian Fitzherbert of Somers Point, a businessman, engineer and project manager in the defense and aerospace industry who supported both the recent tax legislation and repealing the Affordable Care Act. With no “name” Republican in the race, the GOP primary could be wide open.
Turkavage said he has been busy contacting Republican chairmen and local leaders throughout the 2nd District, which includes all of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties as well as parts of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Ocean counties. All of Southern Ocean County save the western half of Stafford Township and all of Barnegat Township is in the 2nd District.
He’s been introducing himself, asking for support and, most of all, making himself available to address groups around the district.
Turkavage is also in the process of launching a website, turkavageforcongress.com.
Reposted from The Sandpaper