TOMS RIVER-Make no mistake, Joe Rullo is an Ocean County “Good Ole’ Boy”, but not in the more commonly accepted pejorative way the term is usually used in New Jersey’s oceanside Republican stronghold.
Rullo is a small businessman who has never held a public office, bestowed a public appointment or awarded a public contract, but for a decade has been a staunch supporter of Republican values at the Jersey Shore. While he’s a “Good Ole’ Boy”, he’s definitely not one of the “Good Ole’ Boys”.
At a recent governor candidate forum held in Toms River which featured Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, Hirsch Singh and Joe Rullo, those vying for Governor had a chance to speak directly to a room full of about 100 Ocean County political movers and shakers.
Rullo’s speech was in stark contrast to longtime Trenton insiders Jack Ciattarelli and Kim Guadagno. Although Rullo touted his core campaign message of ending the streak of New Jersey being last in all the wrong things, he also reminded the audience that he was the outsider who was not beholden to anyone and has the resolve to make the hard choices that lay ahead.
He was the only person to take the stage that night who openly backed and admittedly voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election. While many in the New Jersey Trenton sociopolitical elite very publicly and very clearly distanced themselves from the President during his campaign, Rullo was promoting and campaigning for him, something he hopes will resonate with Trump’s supporters in the June primary.
Both Ciattarelli and Kim Guadagno, by proxy supported Hillary Clinton with their clear and open refusal to support their the top of their own party’s ticket in November.
On the stage Tuesday night, it was obvious Rullo was the outsider. Both Guadagno and Ciattarelli delivered well planned and calculated campaign speeches, that were probably written by well seasoned political establishment speech writers and delivered countless times in the past few weeks. Both gave the generic politician speeches of lower taxes, fix Trenton, make things better for everyone in the state and other well rehearsed talking points, but it was only Rullo who spoke to the audience with passion and determination to actually fulfill the promises he was making on stage.
Guadagno tried hard to distance herself from her 8 year affiliation with Governor Chris Christie.”All he [Christie] wanted the Lt. Governor to do was bring jobs back to New Jersey,” Guadagno said, and she admitted that’s all she did during those eight years.
“I want to be New Jersey’s first governor from Ocean County,” Rullo said. “I’m the political outsider here. I’ve never held a job and never was given a contract with my business.” Rullo prides himself on being a good Republican with no financial strings attached.
Rullo has tackled many issues that are truly important to New Jersey voters. He resists giving his audiences lip service, because at the end of the day, just a few months ago, he was that guy in the audience.
Rullo has also been critical of New Jersey’s 23 cent gas tax hike imposed by the Christie/Guadagno administration and vows to repeal it. He is a strong supporter of the second amendment, critic of New Jersey’s Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act and wants to see an end to New Jersey’s income tax on veterans pensions. Rullo is also a critic of common core and New Jersey’s Abbott school districts which takes tax dollars from rural and suburban communities across the state and dumps that money into failing and corrupt urban school districts. He’d like to see more of that money staying in the home districts.
He stated that he wants to once and for all fix the pension system in New Jersey so that the money can get into the hands of New Jersey’s public workers and law enforcement retirees.
“Right now, $1.3 billion from the pension fund goes to politically connected brokerage houses in New York City,” he said. “We need to replace those connected brokerages with licensed brokers here in New Jersey and use those fees towards pension payment.”
“I will fire hundreds of high-salary patronage jobs, saving hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes,” he added.
Rullo has been trending on social media. His platform is being consumed by Republicans and moderate independents statewide who are sick and tired of the state’s ultra-liberal tendencies.
In the polls, Rullo is hands down winning them all, except on those where his name is omitted, like a recent NJ 101.5 poll held by GOP political insider Bill Spadea and a recent FDU poll where he polled at 0%.
He’s won several politicker NJ polls and a Save Jersey poll. In an Asbury Park Press Poll today, Rullo was leading Steve Rogers 47% to 32%. Kim Guadagno had 3.8% and Jack Ciattarelli had 2.12%, showing that New Jersey voters are clearly looking for an outsider this November.
Comedian Joe Piscopo was a now show Tuesday night. He just didn’t show up. Steve Rogers hosted his campaign rally and couldn’t attend.