The Republican mail piece hit last week in between two debates in four days, and it was arguably the most controversial of the political season, not just in the contentious 8th district but anywhere.
Next to a photograph of masked men marching in a column with guns at the ready, the words refer to a terror suspect nabbed by authorities in connection with a conspiracy to bomb Fort Dix: "He came to our country illegally. He plotted with other Islamic radicals to kill American soldiers… Now Tracy Riley's family's law firm is defending him… and your tax dollars are paying them to do it."
Riley's husband is the court-appointed attorney representing one of the terror suspects.
"If she goes to Trenton," the mailer asks, "will she really fight for tougher crime laws that could hurt her clients? Will she repeal death penalty laws for terrorists? Or ease parole standards for convicted criminals? These are fair questions to ask. But we may not be able to afford the answers."
Then the kicker at the bottom, with the bold words trailing underneath the picture of the masked men with guns, "Tracy Riley: Whose values will she represent in Trenton? Ours? Or theirs?"
Riley, a Mount Laurel Councilwoman who's running with restraunteur Chris Fifis against GOP candidates Freeholder Dawn Marie Addiego and Medford Mayor Scott Rudder, says not only is the ad offensive, but a profound attack on the legal foundation of the United States and the 6th Amendment.
Riley points out that it's not her family's law firm that took the case, what she describes as a factual innacuracy in the piece, and says the judge appointed her husband based on his more than 30 years of experience as a trial attorney.
Phil Haines is the Republican candidate for state senate in the 8th district, and his name and picture appear on the reverse side of the mailer, along with the promise: "Haines, Addiego and Rudder will enact legislation that distributes state Homeland Security funds based upon need – not partisan politics. And they will draft a tough new package of laws designed to crack down on illlegal immigration."
Running against Assemblyman Fran Bodine, Haines defends the mailer, although he also says he might have done it diffently had the decision been up to him alone and not the product of a campaign.