They claim it’s a gentleman’s contest, and in a sit-down debate on NJN over the weekend they confessed to Jim Hooker that they would close ranks after one of them outworks the other to secure the Republican Party’s nomination in the 3rd Congressional District.
In the meantime, however, Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly and Medford Mayor Chris Myers continue to wage arguably the most acrimonious press release war in the state.
Already bolstered by news that his rival had donated money to U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Kelly today lashed out at what he said was Myers’s thin voting record.
"Now we find out that Chris did not even bother to vote in 70% of Republican primary elections since 1997 – including the Presidential primaries in 2000 and 2004," Kelly said.
Myers responded through campaign manager Chris Russell, who targeted 1997, the first of those years the Kelly campaign listed as one in which they contend Myers was missing in action.
"Is Jack Kelly looking to star in a remake of the Keystone Cops?" Russell asked.
"…His latest smear was attacking Chris Myers in a press release for not voting in the June 1997 Republican Primary, when Chris didn’t even live in New Jersey until August 1997 and register to vote in Medford until October 6, 1997," Russell said.
The Kelly campaign admitted they erred in including 1997 as one of the primaries in which Myers failed to vote.
But they stood by the other dates.
"Instead of 70 % it’s 64 %," said Kelly spokesman Frank Luna. "If Chris Myers is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, is he not going to refrain from voting on a bill because it’s not contested?"
In his counter attack, Russell highlighted his candidate’s "perfect" general election record since 1997.
Myers, said Russell, "has voted in school board elections in each of the past five years and six of the last eight (2001, 2004-2008), and in 4 of the last 11 primaries including the contested 2001 and 2005 gubernatorial primaries and the February 2008 presidential primary."
While Kelly pressed the attack, emphasizing his record as a working member of the party faithful, Russell described as "disgraceful" the rival candidate’s suggestion that Myers, a decorated war veteran, failed in his civic duty over "a handful of primary votes."