Former county Freeholder and state labor commissioner Harold J. Wirths, a former Chris Christie cabinet member who currently holds a position with the state Parole Board, has thrown his hat into the ring and announced he will run in the Republican primary for an assembly seat in 2017.
Incumbent Gail Phoebus has not said if she plans to run to retain her seat, but Wirths, incumbent assembly member Parker Space and incumbent state Sen. Steve Oroho have all publicly stated that they will run as a team in the general election.
In a letter announcing his bid, Wirths referenced “the nightmare scenario of a liberal Democrat occupying the governor's office next year along with continued Democrat control of the Legislature,” and said Sussex County’s GOP team, if elected, would “have to fight day in and day out for our shared conservative values and against Trenton's liberal progressive agenda.”
In what we’ve now come to recognize as standard Republican doublespeak, Wirths in his letter also spoke glowingly of “tax cuts won for us by Senator Steve Oroho.”
The “cuts” include raising the threshold for the estate tax to $2 million this year and then eliminating it completely; this tax affects the wealthiest 4 percent of NJ estates. Included in Oroho’s bill was gradual reduction of the sales tax that would be imperceptible for all but the most luxury of luxury purchases (but which would reduce state revenue by tens of millions) and a 5 percent increase in the Earned Income Credit, which would amount to an extra $200 per year for the poorest of the state’s working poor.
The “cuts” also came with a 23¢ (flexible) tax on every gallon of gas purchased in New Jersey, where in Sussex County alone more than 21,000 workers commute out of the county, most children are bussed to school, public transportation is scant and few people live within walking distance of amenities such as stores, restaurants or libraries.