Saddle Brook Republican Blase Billack said Monday he decided to run in the GOP primary for the 9th Congressional District because of his dissatisfaction with the way the health care debate turned out in Congress.
Billack, an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at St. John’s University in Queens, called the process that led to the passage of the bill too partisan.
He believes the law that resulted is too vague, too long and too intrusive on the doctor-patient relationship — and said if elected, he would vote to repeal it. But Billack said there are parts of the law where he believes there can be compromise, such as providing catastrophic health care coverage.
“As a Republican, I would like to be involved in health care reform,” Billack said during a 90-minute interview with The Record and Herald-News editorial board.
“We’re Americans. You’ve got to help people when they’re in trouble,” he said. “But you have to do it in a way that makes sense. The bag of money is going to run out with Obamacare.”
Billack is opposed by Rabbi Shmuley Botech of Englewood and Hector Castillo of Paterson. They are running in a redrawn district that favors Democrats and includes parts of Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties.
Billack bills himself as the “real Republican” in the race, claiming that both his primary opponents had once been registered as Democrats.
He also described himself as the “Republican bridge” in the district, noting that he grew up in Clifton in Passaic County but now lives in Bergen. Those distinctions, however, did not win him the party line designation in either county.
Billack said it would be good for the district to send a scientist to Congress, citing his research work on breast cancer. He also described himself as a skeptic on the evidence of global warming being the result of man-made causes.
He said he favors a freeze on corporate taxes for companies that bring jobs back from overseas, provided they hired U.S. citizens. But when questioned, he amended that stand to say he would also favor freezing corporate taxes on companies that already have workers in the U.S., including legal permanent residents.
During the GOP presidential campaign, Billack said he wasn’t thrilled by any of the candidates, but felt close enough politically to reach out and get himself on the same line on the ballot with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who later suspended his campaign.
Billack acknowledged that running as a Republican in the district is an uphill battle, but said he and his volunteers are working hard to win the primary.
“It’ll be great,” he said. “It’ll be a dream come true.”