I have the most interest in the District 40 race because it covers parts of Passaic County, it overlaps with Congressional District 8, and my family lives in the Bergen County portion that has been the subject of so much contention.
By now, most have read on PoliticsNJ about the race baiting mail piece sent out, paid for by the BCRO, referring to Kevin O'Toole as "The Republican Al Sharpton" with a very distasteful reference to the fact that Kevin O'Toole's mother is Korean. To make matters worse, a follow-up phone call, presumably backed by Guy Talarico and his racist minions (although we can't be sure because the cowards who made the call didn't identify its source or who paid for it), was made to selected Republican households. The call reiterated the points on the mailer, and then ended when the caller, which according to some sources was a live voice!, said:
"And I bet you thought he was Irish."(continued...)Of course, disgusting and ethnically-offensive tactics are nothing new to Republican primaries, I am sorry to report. Who could forget the ragsheets mailed out by the Steve Lonegan team during the sabotage of Bret Schundler in the 2005 gubernatorial primary, that depicted the former Jersey City Mayor in a turban, and attacked my friend Sherine el-Abd, a Christie Whitman protégé who is currently the 1st Vice President of the NJ Federation of Republican Women? O'Toole and Russo took some licks in those pieces as well, but now the designer of those campaigns is working for them. Eat your heart out, Rick Shaftan.
I would like to see the following individuals put on the spot for public condemnations not only of the piece, but of Guy Talarico and Kevin Collins for approving it:
- Todd Caliguire (one of your mailers, Todd, had a lovely photo of your 10-year-old daughter looking up at you in admiration, and for good reason - you're a respectable human being and role model citizen. For your daughter's sake make it public that you're against this rubbish.)
- John Ginty (John, your style of campaigning has focused more on the nuts and bolts of the fiscal issues than any of the other 6 contenders. Everything thoughtful and valid you have to say about cutting budgets and asserting conservative principles goes out the window when associated with trash like this.)
- Joe Schweighardt (Opposition to Rumana is one thing, but everything I've heard about you from personal friends of yours, as well as Rumana loyalists suggests that such tactics are an affront to your character. I know you didn't sign up for this.)
- Paul DiGaetano (Paul, whatever grudge you harbor for O'Toole and the 2005 gubernatorial race is not worth damaging your reputation as a highly articulate Republican by continuing your association with Kevin Collins.)
- Bob Yudin (You make it a point, Bob, to mention your religious background on the campaign trail. Well, what do you think Talarico and Collins say about יהודים when you're not around?)
- Mike DuHaime (Not only are you from NJ, but you are running Giuliani's campaign, and an appearance by your boss provided the funds for the BCRO to send out this trash.)
- I don't even need to mention Paul Duggan and Charlie Kahwaty. It's a safe bet that they've been sick to their stomachs for weeks now already.
- State Chairman Tom Wilson has also already spoken. He told The Record, "This mail piece and tactics like it have no place in a Republican primary. This kind of mail is frankly despicable and seeks to create division where none should exist." (Bravo, Tom.)
"We could have altered the photo. We did not. We could have made a more jaundiced look to his skin. We did not."Talarico is just as dumb. He says:
"I think they are overreacting to the flier. That's the risk of a dramatic piece."He and his minions seems to have overplayed their hand, and the backlash is severe. The Record (and the Herald News), in addition to endorsing the O'Toole team, had 2 separate and devastating articles in the Sunday edition. The first, written by Josh Gohlke who covers Trenton politics, was entitled "GOP puts worst foot forward". Gohlke, who will soon make the move to serve The Record in an editorial capacity, says:
On top of that, Charlotte Vandervalk, whom Bob Yudin threatened with a Primary challenge after Caliguire defeated Kathleen Donovan in the County Executive primary last year, has called for Talarico's resignation:
"...it seems that no patch of territory is so small that the GOP can't fight over it. A year after an intraparty free-for-all chose a failed nominee for Bergen County executive, North Jersey Republicans are reprising the clash over some of their remaining seats in the Legislature.
'There are some who would suggest that it's just a brilliant stroke by the Democrats,' O'Toole said of his opponents' campaign. 'It's a really silly waste of resources, and guess what? There are not a lot of resources left in the Republican Party.'"
"Abraham Lincoln would be turning over in his grave right now. To use race-baiting like that is so offensive, it's unforgivable."The sad thing about all of this is that the mailer was paid for by the BCRO itself, which at one time was one of the most respected and most powerful Republican organizations in the entire United States of America. Presidential contenders used to come through to kiss the ring, as the pictures inside the HQ can attest (thanks to O'Toole and Russo for chipping in for the rent - no good deed goes unpunished). And now the BCRO can't even pay its bills, brings in Rudy Giuliani to raise money for them, and then sullies the name of a once great organization. Some Giuliani fundraisers have even been asking for their money back from the BCRO!
I also had to laugh when I saw that on the same day, my sister got a mailer paid for by Caliguire's campaign, with a horrible cut-and-paste job of O'Toole's face on the body of a really tall guy (Russo joked to O'Toole, "It's definitely not you. You don't have any shirts that nice.") The piece accused him of mudslinging, and I directly quote:
"Kevin O'Toole has absolutely no shame".You really can't make this stuff up! Monday and Tuesday remain - let's see what race-baiting or other tricks these uncouth hacks pull on Scott Rumana.
District 26Morris County residents are fortunate to have a newspaper editor so highly focused on local politics, who has been at the Daily Record for many years, and who understands the issues and personalities quite well. That editor, Fred Snowflack, runs a blog that is the best source for the nitty-gritty of the Jay Webber/Larry Casha contest. I urge readers to look there for details.
Webber won a glowing endorsement from the Daily Record, and has been under the gun from Casha for running too negative a campaign. While I can see the point that calling Casha a "double dipper" for accepting a $1,500 stipend as a legislative aide and $2,000 as a Kinnelon Councilman is stretching it a bit, Webber has been vindicated for calling Casha's decision to accept health benefits as a Kinnelon Councilman illegal.What I find disappointing is Casha's tendency in this race to cry foul every time Webber says something he doesn't like. The icing on the cake was a "McCain Lite" move by Casha late last week, in which he said:
"Over the past few months, I have been subjected to slanderous and deceptive attacks by my opponent. The voters that I've spoken to across the district are sick of the negative campaigning and it's time to end it...That is why I will introduce the 'Truth in Campaigning Act' when I am elected to the State Assembly."That being said, Casha has outspent Webber significantly, but both candidates have TV commercials running. Here is Webber's, and here is Casha's. Everything suggests that this race is deadlocked.
Finally, I want to commend Scott Rumana and the PCRRO for sending out a pre-primary mailer highlighted the golf course fiasco and plugging countywide candidates Jeremias Batista, Jerry Holt, and Joseph Stinziano.