Lobiondo Goes After Gormley

Posted: May 04, 1994

VINELAND — Republican congressional candidate Frank A. LoBiondo accelerated his drive yesterday to isolate State Sen. William L. Gormley from the conservative heart of the GOP.

LoBiondo, a state assemblyman from Vineland, opened the new assault on his rival as both candidates compete for the hard-core conservative voters who generally go to the polls in a Republican primary.

LoBiondo has the widely acknowledged edge with those voters, but Gormley has been working hard to move to the right on issues such as taxes and government controls in the Pinelands.

With five weeks remaining until the June 7 primary, LoBiondo sought yesterday to sharpen his self-portrayal as the "real Republican" and his depiction of Gormley as a free spender more in tune with the Democrats.

In his first major news conference, LoBiondo hammered Congress for its spendthrift ways, vowed to support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and outlined about $160 billion in spending cuts that he said could be achieved by 1998.

He said the cuts would not affect critical programs such as Social Security.

As he has in the past, LoBiondo challenged Gormley to rule out new taxes and to come up with a cost-cutting plan of his own.

"Fiscal responsibility is at the heart of what the Republican Party stands for," LoBiondo said. He added: "I am again challenging Bill Gormley to . . . reject the notion that the federal government must raise taxes to balance the budget."

Gormley has maintained that there is little if any difference between the way he and LoBiondo have voted on state tax measures. LoBiondo countered yesterday that Gormley signaled his intent to raise taxes while running for governor in 1989.

"He's not going to be able to run away from it," LoBiondo said. "He believes that increases in taxes is the way to go."

Gormley, in response, reasserted his contention that the no-tax pledge was a "gimmick" and said he has always opposed the kind of government waste discussed by his opponent.

He said he had a "strong record of cutting taxes and cutting spending" and added: "While (LoBiondo) wants to deal with gimmicks and false promises, I am fighting to create jobs and keep our streets safe."

Gormley said it was hypocritical for LoBiondo to promise no new taxes in light of his support for new taxes to support the struggling Wildwood Convention Hall a few years ago.

LoBiondo, however, said he merely supported giving Wildwood, North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest the option of imposing a 2 percent sales tax on tourism- related business. He said it was a very limited tax requested by the municipalities trying to save their convention center.

According to LoBiondo, Gormley's election to Congress would not signal a significant change in the way business is conducted in Washington. He said that Gormley does not represent the kind of fiscal conservatism that the country needs to save the economy and create jobs.

Gormley and LoBiondo are seeking the Second District seat that will be vacated at the end of the year by Democratic U.S. Rep. William J. Hughes of Ocean City.

The apparent Democratic nominee is Vineland lawyer Louis N. Magazzu. His opponent, congressional aide Ruth J. Katz, withdrew from the Democratic contest on Monday.

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