Candidate Javier Vasquez calls himself "a pro-life Democrat who is against gay marriage."
That's the first thing he blurted out when he returned my call last week after I had left him a message weeks ago asking him why he decided to run for public office.
The Burlington County Democrats have endorsed him to run for an 8th District seat in the NJ Senate in an uncontested primary race on June 6.
"It's unusual," Vasquez concedes, for a Democratic candidate to take such a stance. But on every other issue, he says, he follows "the party line."
He will oppose incumbent Dawn Marie Addiego, a Republican in District 8, which covers much of Burlington County and a few municipalities in Camden and Atlantic Counties. Addiego, a lawyer, has been a legislator for five years.
Vasquez said he represents "the conservative side of the Democrats, which is where most of the Democrats in the 8th District are." "Even though the people in the district have liberal tendencies, they're pro-life," he said.
Vasquez, who was born in Peru, said he became a naturalized citizen in 1978. The 49-year-old Medford resident practiced dentistry in Mexico but now owns a dental laboratory that makes orthodontic appliances in his hometown.
He has never run for office before but said he was invited to enter the race by party officials. "The party needs me," he said.