Women have made tremendous gains in recent decades in many realms, including ongoing fights for equal pay, women's health and reproductive freedom, and economic opportunity. These gains are critical and hard-won. Unfortunately, one candidate in this November's congressional elections, Garry Cobb, seeks to turn back the clock for women.

Throughout his campaign, the former NFL player turned Comcast commentator has adopted positions that are out of touch with New Jersey's values. He has adopted the far-right agenda of the billionaire Koch brothers and aligned himself with the extreme tea party Republicans.

On women's issues, Cobb has staunchly opposed a woman's right to choose, calling women's reproductive freedom an "atrocity" in 2006. He's been a stalwart proponent of abolishing the minimum wage, even though two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. And he's even criticized an invaluable program like Head Start, which has provided low-income children and families with the educational opportunities they need to succeed.

Worse, Cobb has associated himself with extremist tea party Republicans like Allen West, who has a long history of anti-women statements and positions. In one speech, West accused women with whom he had political disagreements of "neutering American men." He voiced outdated and offensive objections to allowing our military women to serve in combat, deriding it as a "social experiment." And West co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, which would severely threaten women's reproductive freedom and access to contraception. And yet West is pictured on Cobb's website. That's not what New Jersey needs in a congressional representative.

The next Congress will face issues of critical importance to the women of our state and of our country — issues like equal pay for women, women's health care and access to contraception, the minimum wage, and access to child care. Yet on women's issues, tea party Republicans like Cobb are charting the wrong course.

This November, we can't afford to turn back the clock on women's rights and opportunities — and that's why we can't afford Garry Cobb.

Pamela Lampitt represents the 6th District in the New Jersey Assembly, where she chairs the Women and Children Committee.