By John Celock
New Jersey’s first lieutenant governor has picked her choice to run for her job in this year’s gubernatorial election.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, announced her selection of Woodcliff Lake Mayor Carlos Rendo as her running mate. Rendo, the first Hispanic male to be a major party statewide nominee in New Jersey history, was formally announced a day after Democratic nominee Phil Murphy introduced Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) as his pick for lieutenant governor.
“I am thrilled to have Carlos on the team,” Guadagno said in a statement. “His story embodies the American Dream and is a testament to all that is possible in New Jersey. As mayor of Woodcliff Lake, Carlos has built a reputation as a strong, bipartisan leader and advocate for lower taxes, open space and transparent government. As lieutenant governor, he will put that experience to work for New Jersey families to help me lower property taxes and audit all aspects of Trenton.”
Rendo, an immigration attorney who was elected mayor of the Bergen County community in 2015, brings a background in local government and ties to the New Jersey Hispanic community to Guadagno’s ticket. Guadagno currently trails Murphy by 26 points in polls.
Rendo touched on his life story, including immigrating from Cuba as a child in a statement released by Guadagno’s campaign.
“My father was a janitor and my mother worked on a factory assembly line as a proud union member. They brought me to this country from Cuba to flee communism, but while Goldman Sachs Millionaire Phil Murphy is promising to bring single-payer healthcare and a state-run bank to New Jersey, Kim offers voters a better way,” Rendo said. “Together, Kim and I will rely on our Main Street values to lower taxes and expand opportunities so more people can afford to realize their version of the American Dream right here in New Jersey.”
Rendo was touching on Murphy’s proposal to create a state owned bank patterned after the publicly owned Bank of North Dakota, which was created in the 1920s.
Rendo is only the second Hispanic to be the nominee of a major party for statewide office in New Jersey history, following Democrat Milly Silva, who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2013. He is also the only Hispanic nominee of a major party for statewide office in the nation this year.
Guadagno said that she would task Rendo with conducting an audit of state government should they win. Guadagno has made the audit a key component of her campaign platform, noting that when former Gov. Tom Kean (R) conducted a similar audit in the 1980s, it produced savings for state government. She also said she wanted Rendo to work on property tax reduction, a top issue in the state.
Guadagno’s decision to task Rendo with state government reform, is similar in scope to duties given to other lieutenant governors around the country. Guadagno was tasked with Gov. Chris Christie (R) with chairing a regulatory reform task force and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R) has led a regulatory reform initiative since taking office in 2011, along with spending several years as state insurance director.
New Jersey’s lieutenant governor has no constitutional duties, other than to succeed the governor in the event of a vacancy. Guadagno is the first person to hold the office since it was created by voters in 2005. Christie has given Guadagno economic development duties, along with naming her as New Jersey’s secretary of state, where she oversees elections, tourism, culture and the arts, record keeping and volunteerism.
Rendo is also the first male to be a major party nominee for lieutenant governor in New Jersey. In addition to Guadagno, Silva and Oliver, state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) sought the lieutenant governorship.