As political winds blow, Ørsted decision not likely to have impact on elections

Is it possible to make Ørsted’s decision Tuesday night to pull out of New Jersey an election issue — one that could be part of a Republican candidate’s outreach through digital, social media and mail channels?

Sure. If you had six months. Or even six weeks.

Six days? Not likely.

Ben Dworkin. (File photo)

So said Ben Dworkin, the director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship, on Wednesday morning — fewer than 24 hours after Ørsted announced it is cancelling its Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 offshore wind projects due to economic issues.

“It’s a matter of timing,” Dworkin said. “We’re six days away. A third of the electorate has already cast ballots.

“I’m sure there are talented Republican ad makers who will try to throw this issue up. I’m just not sure whether they have enough time in the last weekend to make it penetrate.”

The effort is there.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Bucco (R-Denville) released a statement hours after Ørsted released its news.

“Republicans stand ready to meet this challenge and to ensure that New Jersey’s energy portfolio is strong, safe, transparent, diverse and fair,” he said. “It’s time for Republican leadership.”

State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Holmdel) — along with Assemblywoman Victoria Flynn and Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger (both R-Middletown) — followed that up.

“The urgency for a wholesale change in leadership in New Jersey has never been more clear as it is tonight — only with a change in leadership in Trenton will we have a real, logical analysis of the governor’s green energy schemes and other illogical policies the Democrats have enacted under one-party rule,” they wrote.

Both statements were out before midnight.

Not that the sunlight slowed them down.

Bob Hugin, chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee, issued a statement with all the political talking points, referring to Ørsted as a “foreign offshore wind interest” and making reference to a “billion-dollar bailout” that pertained to federal incentives — not a penny of which will actually be paid out.

He even turned the phrase Gov. Phil Murphy used against Ørsted — about competence and credibility — against him.

“Their irresponsible abuse of our resources and incalculable damage to our shoreline will not be forgotten. Voters will take into account Gov. Murphy’s ‘competence and credibility’ on Election Day,” he said.

Will it matter? Dworkin doubts it. And not just because a single-issue push requires numerous touch points that the calendar will not allow.

Dworkin points out this fact, too: The Shore is where the issue resonates the most, and …

“It is virtually all represented by Republicans already,” he said.

And one of the key Democrats there, State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Ocean Twp.) has long ago separated himself from the administration on offshore wind.

How you would use the issue is another question. After all, any potential collapse of the offshore wind industry means the loss of jobs — or potential jobs.

Still, the timing makes it tough to do anything, Dworkin said.

“If you had six weeks to get your anti-wind message out with this news as part of it, that’s one thing,” he said. “But when you have six days, I’m not sure it’s enough time to make a difference.”