Republican Congressman Scott Garrett is not used to close races. The north Jersey conservative has been elected 3 times by double-digit margins. Even in the coming Democratic onslaught, Garrett was generally considered a safe seat. Until early October, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had left its quixotic candidate Dennis Shulman off the target list for national-level funding.
Very few public polls have been run in NJ-5, with one from the end of September giving Garrett a comfortable but not overwhelming 49%-34% lead. (“Safe” incumbents generally break 50%.) For reference, the same poll gave McCain a 52%-37% lead in the district. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, Garrett’s position as a GOP leader on the banking committee may have softened his support, and this poll also pre-dated all three of Shulman and Garrett’s debates. Combined with the district’s style of Republicanism, (we’re talking rich folks, not snake-handlers,) NJ-5 began to look like a long-shot worth fighting for, and the DCCC officially added Shulman to their “Red to Blue” program on October 14.
The New York Times has an excellent article on Shulman from September. He’s a blind Rabbi, PhD in clinical psych from Harvard. (His mother must be so proud!) Shulman has proven an outstanding fundraiser for someone in a district that hasn’t been competative in years, and between his compelling life story and Obama’s coattails could make a real race of this sleeper district. So how does Garrett respond?
Stay classy, asshole. For real, that’s a blind Rabbi they’re pairing with Iranian President Ahmadinejad. But wait, there’s more! New Jersey political reporter Matt Friedman writes:
Today, the Dennis Shulman campaign decried a mailer from incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage) that put a small picture of Shulman, a rabbi, in front of a much larger picture of a Hamas member carrying an AK-47.
“Should we be talking with terrorists,” it reads in large, blood red letters. “Dennis Shulman thinks so.”
Oy. Fuck. Vey.
Shulman is a great candidate running against a real nasty dude, so show him some love even if it isn’t your district. Because something good has to come from Bergen County besides a world-class drum corps that decamped to Pennsylvania anyway.