Meet the Candidate: Mark Dunec

Democratic candidate Mark Dunec is running for Congress against longtime Republican incumbent Rodney Frelinghuysen in New Jersey’s red-leaning 11th District.

Mark Dunec is unapologetic about his Judaism. A practicing Orthodox Jew, Dunec does not work after 2 PM on Fridays or campaign on the Sabbath. Though he says party leaders have expressed concern over taking time off for religious observance, observing Shabbat has never proved a problem for him professionally. “I’m the shmuck sending emails at 10 PM on a Saturday,” Dunec tells Jewish Insider, and notes his irregular Friday to Sunday schedule is a running office joke. Dunec is a self-proclaimed “24/6”-er, working tirelessly both in the office and in his campaign.

With 15 years of experience on Wall Street, Dunec does more than wax eloquently about economic issues. In peaceful times, he sees a scaled down defense budget which still maintains a strong program of foreign aid, as fiscally sound and strategically prudent. However, as he is the first to note, “we are not living in a peacetime environment.”

Dunec with Sen. Bob Menendez

Dunec with Sen. Bob Menendez

Citing Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) as a major source of inspiration, Dunec’s foreign policy positions are unambiguous: the United States has a responsibility to take swift, decisive, and effective action against threats to the security of the US and her allies. He sees the problems of ISIS and the Iranian nuclear threat as intertwined, and believes that “the UN, for all intents and purposes, is a complete failure.” In Iran, he emphasizes that containment isn’t enough, and believes that strong sanctions are the key to avoiding an outright war, stating, “we need to have the most crippling sanctions possible and we need to do them yesterday.”

To Dunec, bipartisanism is key. He mentions his dream of working side-by-side with Paul Ryan in the House Budget Committee, using his financial and accounting background to create tangible results. “No issue is so complex that there are no middle of the ground, passable solutions.”

Dunec’s main asset is his ability to distill core issues from among the muck of partisan politics. He believes that the Republican claim of being the only party of fiscal responsibility is hogwash, noting that in his experience, the value transcends party lines. In his own words, Mark Dunec is a democrat for three reasons: “women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and minority rights. These are the ABCs of America and I don’t understand in 2014 why we’re still discussing these issues.”

Dunec’s closing message: “If you are happy with the way Congress has performed or content with the status quo, vote for my opponent, the 20-year incumbent. But if not, then I encourage you to stay close to my campaign.”

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