Republican 3rd District congressional candidate Chris Myers fired the latest salvo in a war of words with the progressive blog Blue Jersey today, accusing them of engaging in a coordinated effort with rival Democrat John Adler’s campaign to discredit Myers’s military service.
Myers held a press conference in Medford to denounce a Blue Jersey post that questioned whether he should continue to cite himself as a “combat veteran.”
“John Adler’s refusal to publicly and forcefully condemn these liberal bloggers and their vicious, dishonest attacks on me and other veterans is a disgrace,” said Myers in a statement. “John Adler could put an end to these outrageous attacks against me and the veteran’s community if he wanted to; instead chooses to sit by silently in the hopes of scoring cheap political points at my expense. He should be ashamed.”
Myers took the opportunity to point out that Adler did not serve in the military, while his campaign manager, Chris Russell, insinuated that Blue Jersey and the Adler campaign were in cahoots.
“These dishonest attacks against Chris Myers’ are an underhanded, coordinated effort between the Adler campaign and ultra-liberal bloggers to diminish Chris’ record of service to our country, and it’s despicable,” said Russell.
The author of the blog entry, Thurman Hart, served six years in the Navy. Reached for comment today, he said he never doubted that Myers is rightfully entitled to two awards reserved for combat veterans, but that Myers’s ship never really saw combat and the Combat Action Ribbon and Navy Commendation Medal with a V designator were give to the crew of Myers’s ship through a Navy policy waiver.
Hart, an adjunct political science professor at New Jersey City University, said that Myers is entitled to wear the medals, but is misleading people when he claims to be a “combat veteran.”
“I’m not attacking what he did. I’m attacking his mischaracterization of what he did,” said Hart. “I have no problem if he wants to say he’s a decorated veteran or that he served with distinction in desert storm, but it wasn’t combat, and he knows it isn’t… If he wants to run as a combat veteran, he’s going to actually have to show he was in combat, and the public record shows that he was not in direct combat. That should have some meaning.”
Hart said that there was no coordinated effort between Blue Jersey and the Adler campaign. Blue Jersey Technical Director Scott Shields echoed that claim, as did Adler spokesman Steve Ayscue.
Ayscue said that the fight should be between Myers and Blue Jersey, and that the Adler campaign has never called Myers’s military service into question. Moreover, Ayscue said that he ran into Myers at a restaurant on Thursday evening and discussed the issue with him there, and that Myers’s concern was that military veterans are not politicized.
“If he’s a man of his word, why is he politicizing veterans? We’re not politicizing veterans. We’ve been crystal clear about this issue,” said Ayscue, who added that Adler had the same conversation with Myers. “If he wants to have a battle with bloggers, that’s between him and bloggers. It’s not our campaign.”
Russell responded that Adler is being disengenous by claiming nothing to do with the issue, and that Blue Jersey bloggers would drop the issue of Adler called on them to do so.
“By not doing it, he’s perpetuating the stuff, and he’s doing it on purpose,” he said.
Blue Jersey founder Juan Melli recently joined Politicker.com as an associate editor. He contributes a column to PolitickerNJ.com and no longer is involved with Blue Jersey.