The title of “Rogue Republican” is one that US Senate hopeful Joseph Rullo isn’t shying away from.

Speaking to small but passionate crowd of supporters at the Blind Pig Cigar Lounge in Beachwood, Rullo kicked off the first of what would be several meetings designed to build grass roots support for his campaign.

Rullo went over what he believes makes him the best candidate for office, going over his stances on everything from jobs, energy, and even gay marriage and Roe v Wade.  Even the location was meant to illustrate a point for Rullo.

“The big theme of tonight was to revitalize small businesses. The cigar industry right now faces a very big situation right now where the FDA wants to come in and take away a person’s right to choose what cigar they want.”  The bill in question is a provision of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which amongst other things would prevent clients in cigar shops from entering walk in humidors for purchases.

At the top of his list was bringing back job to New Jersey, cutting taxes, and getting the real estate market moving again. Topics that are not outside the scope of popular debate amongst candidates, however Rullo makes no qualms that he will do whatever he has to do to get legislation through, even if that means sleeping in a cardboard box or wearing a sign around his body to make a point. He made it clear that he is going into the race to win regardless of what opponents, some of whom are in his own party, may think.

“A good hard working majority of the GOP support what I’m for. It’s the special interest, the few. The ones that are out there that have the hidden agenda. I’m running in the primary and I’m not going to let a few certain people decide my fate. “

Rullo believes that the small meetings with manageable donations are the best way for a candidate like himself to build funds and spread his word, claiming that he “would rather not have to owe people if I win the election.”

“I believe in grass roots, with the economy the way it is today I’m not trying to go out and get the special interest, the “career politician”- type donation. I’m trying to get grass roots people to come out to different places and try and get my name out there. “

While Mr. Rullo has not gotten any major endorsement from the state or county GOP officials, he believes there’s new ways to reach out to voters.

“Facebook brings us to a level playing field, the media coverage brings us to a level playing field. “

Sponsorship for the event came from The Faragi Group, a New York based investment firm started by Lanoka Harbor resident Joseph Faragi.

With state senator Joe Kyrillos already expressing interest to run against incumbent Democrat Bob Menedez, Rullo believes that the two things that make him stand out are “one is that I’m not a career politician, number two is that I haven’t been in office my whole life. I’m not dependent upon a government subsidy to pay my health insurance; in fact I don’t even have health insurance. “

Rullo’s status as an “average citizen” is one he emphasizes,  he says the invite for the next meeting, scheduled for February 24th at the Quality Inn in Toms River and like the one in Beachwood everyone is welcome.

“I’m trying to break to bring in not just my republican friends, not only my elected friends, not only business friends, but also people like me for whom 50 dollars is a lot of money. “

While the meeting brought a crop of supporters to donate and add their names to Rullo’s mailing list, the one thing they couldn’t do is sign a petition to get his name on the ballot officially.

According to Rullo the petition forms for getting your name on ballot haven’t been released.

“The ballot, believe it or not, was supposed to be out last week and it’s still isn’t out, and that’s at a disadvantage for a grass roots organization. “

He says that every day is important for a candidate like him, especially if you’re trying to present yourself as a viable candidate to GOP.

“I’m going to have a certain amount of people going out and getting these signatures, I’m not necessarily going to be able to go out to the establishment if it looks like Kyrillos is going to get the nomination. “

Rullo believes he will be able to get the signatures needed to get on the ticket. He hopes by the next meeting the forms will be available. Still every meeting would have gotten him closer to his goal.

“I’ve lost an opportunity tonight.

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