U.S. Senate candidates Robert Menendez and Joe Kyrillos agree on little when it comes to the issues. The veterans of New Jersey politics are largely pushing party-line policy as voters take to the polls on election day.
Menendez, a native of Union City, has been the heavy early favorite over the state legislator. A recent Philadelphia Inquirer poll had Menendez up 50-32 over Kyrillos, in line with polls conducted by Richard Stockton College and Quinnipiac University.
Kyrillos, echoing larger party sentiments, favors extending tax cuts for the "job creators" making large sums of money and also relaxing corporate taxes.
It's a philosophy not shared by Menendez, who says New Jersey families have been "victimized" by corporate loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy.
"The middle class is under attack, and that is why I have been fighting back," the U.S. senator claims in a series of television ads.
With $15 million raise for his campaign, those ads have been playing quite often. Menendez holds an $11 million fundraising advantage over the Monmounth County state senator.
Menendez says he wants to "defend" the middle class by creating tax credits for families and students, while also closing tax loopholes exploited by corporations. Menendez has also favored ending the Bush-era tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more.
Kyrillos, a state senator since 1992 but lacking in big-name recognition, has tagged along for Gov. Chris Christie's "Jersey Comeback" tour. He says his opponent's growth plan is the wrong approach.
He has advocated for universal tax cuts – including those for corporations – to spur job growth, instead. Kyrillos envisions individual tax rates dropping 20 percent, with corporate taxes falling from 35 percent – the highest in the world – to 25 percent.
"We're going to have to raise revenue, and I want to do it through growth," Kyrillos said at a debate against the senator this fall.
Health Care/Social Issues
The two candidates also differ sharply on health care. Menendez says he's an advocate for lower-and-middle class families having affordable options. He voted for Obamacare. He's also been a staunch pro-choice supporter.
Kyrillos, who has moved from pro-life to pro-choice, says he believes women should have options, though parental notice and a waiting period should be required with abortions. He supports third-trimester abortions.
The state senator has also expressed some support for some of Obama's healthcare changes, including coverage for those with pre-existing illnesses as well as young adults staying on their parents' plan until age 26. Overall, he maintains, the plan is too expensive.
The pair also differ on same sex marriage – Menendez favors it, Kyrillos does not.
Both candidates agreed that Iran was a serious threat to national security. Menendez has sponsored legislation creating sanctions against Iran, which he said have been effective. Kyrillos disagrees, point to Iran's continuing nuclear ambitious.
Kyrillos during the campaign has also stessed he favors an eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan. Menendez, who has criticized the war in Iraq for years as being foolish, claims a switch in battlefield strategy from anti-insurgency to anti-terrorist would be optimum.