PARAMUS – Democratic congressional district five challenger Josh Gottheimer thinks that Scott Garrett, the Sussex County Republican he is challenging, is “out of step” with the citizens of his congressional district.
In July, Politico reported that Garrett made statements that he would withhold dues from his party committee because they supported homosexual candidates. On Wednesday, Garrett told the Bergen Record that the original story was a “fabrication” and that he supports “everyone’s right” to run for Congress. Garrett told the paper: “I said at that time I will support those people who support the Republican platform, which is fiscal responsibility [and] traditional marriage.”
According to Gottheimer, CD5 residents took serious issue with those statements back when they were first reported, something that has continued to impact Garrett even eight months later.
“He is under a tremendous amount of pressure because people realized you can’t support someone who says that gay people shouldn’t be able to run for congress,” Gottheimer said. “People, frankly, in our community are too smart. They realize that he is trying to change his position—flip flop—and he is out of step with the values, it is clear. I don’t think he realized how out of step he was with his community and the outrage it has raised. Everywhere I go, people tell me that they can’t believe… their congressman believes that.”
Gottheimer also said that Garrett’s recent statements have come at the “eleventh hour” because of his desire to keep the seat he has occupied since 2003. But, Gottheimer said, because of Bergen County Republican Organization Chairman Bob Yudin statements to NJ.com confirming Garrett’s reasoning back in July, “Garrett’s attempt now to re-write what he said won’t fool anyone.”
At Thursday bipartisan press conference, Gottheimer—along with Paramus Mayor Rich Labarbiera (a Democrat), Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet (an independent) and Norwood Councilman Allen Rapaport (a Republican)—bashed Garrett for what they called the “Garrett tax.” The officials said that for every dollar CD5 contributes to federal taxes, there is only a 33-cent return on investment. They claimed that that disparity was a result of Garrett’s fiscal policies that hurt the local economy, impeded public safety measures and funding for first responders, and left federal funding on the table for schools.
CD5 was selected by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as one of the districts on it’s “Red to Blue” campaign. That means that the DCCC is pumping significant funds into CD5 in order to help Gottheimer in his quest to topple Garrett.