O’Toole says Hackett seat in play

Assembyman Kevin O'Toole, the Essex County Republican Chairman, says that Hackett's arrest "certainly changes the dynamics of the election."

And a spokesman for Democratic Senate candidate James Whelan said the arrests of five current and former Pleasantville school board members will only help their campaign.

Hackett's GOP opponent is Mark Meyerowitz, a 52-year-old financial advisor from West Orange and son of a Holocaust survivor, whose only political experience was volunteering for Ross Perot in 1992.

"While it was once viewed as an uphill battle it becomes a new ground," said O'Toole. "While you hate to see this played as a dynamic in the election, it’s unmistakable that the public will take it into consideration in the voting booth.”

"At this point they’re arrests, and obviously there’s a presumption of innocence that’s afforded to everyone. If you look at the US attorneys record, they don’t make many mistakes, if any. I think the facts will be laid out there, and it’s another sad day in New Jersey politics," said O'Toole.

"We just had a press conference with Governor Corzine and bipartisan legislators talking about cleaning up politics and dual office holding and making politicians more accountable, and two days later this smacks us in the face. You just feel like Sisyphus — every time you make it to the top of the mountain with the boulder, it comes rolling down again," O'Toole told PoliticsNJ.com.

Among the Pleasantville officials arrested was Maurice "Pete" Callaway, the brother of former Atlantic City Councilman Craig Callaway. Craig Callaway is now in federal prison after accepting a bribe from an undercover FBI agent.

"Whelan’s been fighting these Callaway factions," said Raiyan Syed, spokesman for the Democatic campaign. "Craig Callaway’s locked up in jail and Jim Whelan’s going to be the next state senator."

O’Toole says Hackett seat in play