7th Congressional District debate underway in Scotch Plains

SCOTCH PLAINS – The 7th Congressional District debate between state Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Fanwood) has started here in the Jewish Community Center.

The place is packed. Standing room only.

There's a panel of volunteer questioners ready to start the opening round of questions. But first, the candidates launch into their respective opening statements.

Out of the blocks, Stender hammers President George W. Bush, who on Monday isappearing at a Colts Neck fundraiser for Lance.

"Our reputation internationally is in shreds," she says. Record oil company profits. American Dream in tatters.

"My opponent offers more of the failed policies of the last eight years," she says. "Like Bush, he's said nothing of profits for big oil."

Now it's Lance's turn.

Proud graduate of public schools. Middle class family background. The mike bugs out, fills the room with reverb. Fundamental reform. Dog named Fritz.

The rabbi moderator fixes the problem.

"I'm New Jersey's leading opponent of borrowing without social approval,"Lance says. He'll be the same way in Washington. Doesn't care which party he bucks.

He burnishes his environmental record. He points out thatthe Sierra Club's Jeff Tittell calls him the state's strongest environmental record.

Stender's voted for increased taxes, spending and borrowing, says the senator.

He's a reformer with a bipartisan record.

End of opening statements.

7th Congressional District debate underway in Scotch Plains