As the GOP primary season in New Jersey enters the critical final five weeks before Garden State Republicans go to the polls and vote on June 5, the time has come to do some serious vetting of incumbent congressman Leonard Lance, who represents the 7th Congressional District (which comprises all of Hunterdon, most of Somerset, a third of both Warren and Morris and the suburban municipalities in Union and Essex counties).
In this series, we’ll scrutinize Mr. Lance’s words and deeds, with particular focus on the votes he cast in the House of Representatives for legislation that seriously and profoundly impacts Americans beyond the confines of the 7th Congressional District.
Mr. Lance was elected to the House of Representatives in 2008, succeeding Mike Ferguson. A scion of a distinguished political family, Mr. Lance was carefully groomed for public service:
Leonard Lance was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, into a political family. His father, Wesley L. Lance, was a State Senator. His great-uncle, H. Kiefer Lance, was also active in New Jersey politics.
After attending North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey, Lance received a B.A. from Lehigh University, a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School and an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Leonard Lance served as the law clerk to the Warren County Court in 1977 and 1978. He was assistant counsel for county and municipal matters to Governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean from 1983 to 1990. He was a member of the New Jersey Council on the Humanities during the Whitman Administration by appointment of the Governor.
Lance served in the New Jersey General Assembly for 11 years (1991–2002). In 2002 he was elected to the New Jersey Senate and held the position of Minority Leader from 2004 to 2008.
Mr. Lance is credited with spearheading the battle against state borrowing without the expressed approval of the taxpayers responsible for footing the bill:
In 2004 he successfully sued Governor James McGreevey on the issue before the State Supreme Court and in 2008 New Jersey voters approved the “Lance Amendment” to the State Constitution, which requires all future borrowing to be approved by the voters.
The Politico article is not entirely accurate: Leonard Lance, Steve Lonegan and others brought that suit to the NJ Supreme Court for the expressed purpose of stopping the borrowing. In a nutshell, the justices permitted the borrowing but warned that it can never happen again.
This is tantamount to finding a man guilty of theft and then setting him free on the condition that he never steal again. If, as Lance claims, this was a victory then why bother with the Lance Amendment?
But it gets worse: in 2007, Lance issued a press release attacking Gov. Corzine for his attempt to borrow $2.5 billion without voter approval. Unfortunately for Lance, it was his own debt legislation (SCR-39) that included a loophole permitting the borrowing. Eventually, the loophole was closed.
Despite the fact that in November of 2007 he was removed from the position of Minority Leader by his fellow Republicans, the glitter of the Lance Amendment “victory” was sufficient to give Mr. lance the momentum he needed to run for the congressional seat vacated by Mike Ferguson. But it didn’t take long for the warning signs to emerge as early as the primaries:
Touring his district, he ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism, moderate social values, and environmentalism. He vowed to be “an independent voice” in Congress if elected.
When you read the words “independent voice,” think “Maverick.” Does that moniker ring a bell? It should if you ever heard of John McCain.
Lance prevailed in the GOP primary and faced off against Linda Stender in the general election that November.
…both Lance and Stender are pro-choice. Lance was firmly opposed to negotiations with Iran on the presidential level, saying that he only favors holding such talks on a ministerial level. He also made energy independence one of his signature issues, along with fiscal accountability and debt reduction. On foreign policy, both candidates supported withdrawal from Iraq, a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and increased attention to the genocide in Darfur.
Mr. Lance is pro-choice? Absolutely.
Lance has indicated in the past that he is supportive of abortion in the first trimester, but is against partial birth abortion. In a 2003 interview with the New York Times, then state senator Lance indicated that he is pro-choice, noting that he has voted for parental notification before abortions are performed on those under 18 years of age.
That is to say, he was pro-choice until the rise of the Tea Party Movement, a serious challenge to his seat in 2010 and, most importantly, recent redistricting that left CD-07 considerably more conservative than it was in the last election cycle. Apparently a metanoia of sorts has taken place and, mirabile dictu, Mr. Lance is now on the vanguard of the pro-life movement. I say “of sorts” because while Mr. Lance properly opposes taxpayer funding of any abortion-related service, he has yet to express opposition to the act of killing an unborn human being or a desire to make such an act illegal.
Then there is the matter of the so-called “Two State Solution,” one on which he was in complete agreement with his Democrat opponent. Here’s the bottom line on that issue: if a Palestinian state is established, it will be nothing more than a launch platform for a jihad against Israel.
Mr. Lance was sworn into office in January, 2009. Between then and now he has established a voting record that will surprise those who buy into his claim that he is a “Principled Conservative.”
In future articles, we’ll examine that voting record in detail and vet Mr. Lance’s claim to the Conservative mantle.