By Elia Morelos
Steven Uccio is expected to lose his campaign for Congress. No amount of campaigning across New Jersey’s 12th District will change the fact that he is a huge underdog.
Uccio is running against incumbent Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman. As a Republican in a blue district, Uccio isn’t likely to attract enough voters—and that’s if they hear his message in the first place. Uccio, a first-time congressional candidate, receives scant media coverage.
Uccio isn’t a flawless candidate. His policy platform is incomplete, notably his lack of a position on Medicaid and food stamps, both important issues for low-income residents. He also intends to vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whom is highly unpopular among Democrats—which Uccio will need to win over if he has any chance of victory.
But Uccio’s candidacy could have appeal if he receives more attention. Even though he’s supporting Trump, he calls the brash businessman a “wild card” who sometimes needs to “censor himself.” Several of Uccio’s positions could also attract liberal voters. He supports ending the war on drugs, which he considers a failure, and advocates legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing heroin. He favors criminal justice reform.
Uccio, a former libertarian, also takes left-leaning stances on several social issues, including gay rights and abortion. He believes the government should avoid placing restrictions on abortion, and he believes the government has no right to restrict same-sex marriage, though he would allow religious organizations to refuse to perform a gay wedding.
On most issues, Uccio is strongly conservative. He emphasizes the need to reduce the size of the federal government, and he is against raising the minimum wage. He also opposes restricting gun ownership, with certain exceptions.
Could Uccio’s message resonate in New Jersey’s 12th District? We probably won’t find out, because Uccio’s campaign doesn’t receive adequate media coverage. But if this election season is any indication, voters aren’t necessarily content with the status quo.
In the 12th District, however, they don’t have much of a choice. It might be easy to mindlessly vote for a party’s candidate, but voters should take time to consider their views—even if the media doesn’t make that easy.
Coleman benefits from greater media attention, while Uccio and other candidates who aren’t expected to win can’t broadcast their message. It creates a cycle that limits democracy. Uccio might not be the right candidate to represent the 12th District—but he deserves a chance.