Gary Stein is challenging Cassandra Shober for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the June 5 Democratic primary.
Shober, of Ventnor, received the endorsement of Democratic county organizations in Cape May and Atlantic counties.
Stein, 55, ran unsuccessfully against Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo in 2010 as a Democrat and in 2008 as an independent Republican.
Raised in Dumont in Bergen County, Stein ran a guesthouse in Ocean City before moving to Mullica Township where he operates a commercial cleaning business.
Stein was a Republican until 2010, but switched parties to run against LoBiondo that year.
He said he became disenchanted with LoBiondo, who was first voted into office in 1994, for breaking a campaign promise to only serve six terms. LoBiondo is running for his 11th term.
Stein said he’s fiscally conservative, but socially more liberal.
“There are a lot of flip-flops with LoBiondo,” Stein said.
Stein criticized LoBiondo for not voting for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which made it possible for the government to purchase toxic assets from financial institutions as a way of recovering from the subprime mortgage crisis.
LoBiondo also supported the emissions trading bill, commonly known as the “Cap and Trade Bill,” which worked to reward companies for reducing carbon emissions by allowing them to sell or trade permits for each ton of carbon they don’t create. LoBiondo later recanted his support for cap and trade after he voted for it, Stein said.
“He went against his own president and the rest of the Republican House and listened too much to the people. That’s my issue with the guy. He doesn’t lead,” Stein said.
Stein said he’s opposed LoBiondo as an entrenched politician who’s served 18 years in Congress.
“He gamed the system long enough to become an established household name down here and he knows once you reach that point you can’t get rid of these incumbents,” Stein said. “That’s gaming the system.”
Stein supports Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – to a point – and favors a single-payer universal health care or eliminating insurance companies and expanding Medicare to cover all ages.
“Health care is a unique set of circumstances where people don’t have a lot of options if they’re not well. You have to have the healthy in on the pool of insurance,” Stein said. “I don’t love Obamacare, because the heath insurance companies basically wrote a lot of the bill.”
Currently, the Supreme Court is deliberating whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act’s individual mandate, which requires everybody to have health insurance. Stein said he wasn’t concerned with that mandate, but asked conservatives what their alternative was.
“What’s their answer? Buying insurance across state lines? That’s crazy. That’s not going to bring the cost down. It’ll bring it down 1 or 2 percent if you’re lucky,” Stein said. “If there are Constitutional grounds to overturn Obamacare on the mandate, then what? We go back to where we were a few years ago where insurance companies can deny coverage?”
Stein said health care remedies include abolishing inefficient private insurance companies.
“Private insurance companies are grossly inefficient. They spend all this money on advertising and denying coverage to people. That’s not efficient. There are dozens of private insurance companies, and they’re all paying executives and CEOs enormous salaries,” Stein said. “There are so many arguments in favor of health insurance for everybody.”
He said a lack of health care affects thousands of people in the Second Congressional District.
“People in this district are losing their houses because they go bankrupt over denial of health care insurance,” Stein said.
He said his wife Cynthia has been dealing with health insurance companies’ policies when she was denied coverage in 2006. He said the formula to meet the deductible was unnecessarily complex. Stein said the family ran up a stack of health insurance bills, and called LoBiondo’s office about it. He said LoBiondo’s staff gave him the phone number of the Insurance and Banking Industry in Trenton.
“There’s a lot of instances where he’s another congressman helping when he can, but giving you the bum’s rush and doesn’t want to get involved. He’s not that great with constituent services,” Stein said.
Stein said he would be the wisest choice as a candidate instead of Shober because he’s studied LoBiondo in depth.
“LoBiondo needs to be challenged properly by me, a guy who’s had a real good look at him over the last four years and not some newcomer like her (Shober),” Stein said. “Does she feel the pain that’s out there? I sure do.”
Stein said though he loves President Barack Obama “as a person,” the president is “too professorial” for his tastes.
“He’s thinking in a perfect world,” Stein said. “The Democrats may know I’m a Republican for 30 years, but he (Obama) is head and shoulders above Mitt Romney as a capable, intellectual, rational guy.”
According to Stein, the Bush Administration misled the country about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a war which prevented critical concentrated military action in Afghanistan. He said former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein could have been dealt with through tough sanctions.
“We had the moral high ground and we gave it up,” Stein said.
He said LoBiondo was against the troop surge in Iraq. In past reports, LoBiondo said he attended his father-in-law’s funeral and wasn’t present to vote on the troop surge.
“He gave a statement on the floor of the House against the troop surge,” Stein said. “It’s incontrovertible. He was against the troop surge.”
He said reviving the district’s economy would be through a tax plan which would eliminate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the lower 90 percent of Americans. Stein said top 10 percent of earners would be required to pay taxes.
He also advocated a national sales tax and eliminating corporate taxes.
“If you’re a die-hard Republican, you don’t want to hear my plan for raising the taxes on the rich, and if you’re a die-hard Democrat, you don’t want to hear my plan on a national sales tax because the poor have to pay it,” Stein said.
Stein said if elected, he would listen to ideas on both sides of the aisle.
“There’s too much gridlock and arguing and partisanship,” Stein said. “They’re not communicating. The base is having its day. I don’t hate Republicans. I was one for 30 years. There’s a lot of truth what they’re saying.”