State Sen. John Adler’s congressional campaign today charged that the involvement of conservative third-party group in the race proves that Republican Chris Myers is inextricably linked to the Bush Administration.
At issue is Freedom’s Watch, a right wing 501(c)(4) organization that was initially set up to bolster support for President Bush’s Iraq War policies, but has played a role in House races across the country this year. They first appeared in New Jersey in June, using robocalls to criticize Adler and fellow Democrat Linda Stender (D-Fanwood) in the 7th Congressional District over New Jersey’s gas tax, which is among the lowest in the nation.
In the 3rd District, the group has started a new round of robocalls charging that Adler supported “legislation that could give taxpayer funded healthcare to illegal aliens and taxpayers like you would pay for it.”
The legislation the robocall referred to is likely the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which Myers supports as well, and highlights as one of the key differences between himself and the Bush Administration.
Myers hasn’t been able to count on too much help from Republican groups like the National Republican Congressional Committee, and only has $288,000 on hand to Adler’s $1.27 million, making support from an outside groups like Freedom’s Watch invaluable to his campaign.
But with former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on its board and, at least according to The National Review, with Bush confidante Karl Rove as an advisor, it’s given the Adler campaign another opportunity to peg Myers to the Bush Administration – the central theme of his campaign so far.
"Mayor Myers can hardly look the voters in the eye after insisting for months that the nation 's economy is 'basically strong ' and singing the praises of George Bush's disastrous economic policies, " Warren said. "Now Myers’ campaign is out of money and he is sinking in the polls — so he is allowing the radical extremist group Freedom’s Watch to spread lies regarding John Adler's solid, responsible record on immigration through mail pieces and robo-calls. Chris Myers should do the right thing and repudiate these attacks now,” said Adler Campaign Manager Mark Warren.
Myers Campaign Manager Chris Russell called the press release a "diversion," and tried to steer the conversation back to his campaign's attacks on Adler's grants from a legislative slush fund.
"I assume the Adler campaign has been burning up the phones telling the DCCC and the New Jersey Democratic State Committee to stop lying about Chris Myers on a daily basis??? Give me a break," he wrote in an email to PolitickerNJ "This is just another diversion so John Adler doesn't have to answer questions about his failed record in Trenton or fully disclose all the campaign contributors he's directed taxpayer dollars to through his Trenton slush fund."
Update — Freedom's Watch Deputy Communications Director Tim Pearson offered the following response, denying the Adler campaign's assertion that Karl Rove is an advisor to the group:
Karl Rove is not a Freedom’s Watch advisor. National Dems have been tossing that talking point around all year in an attempt to scare up fundraising dollars and distract from the substance of what we’re talking about, but it’s not true.
So while–as much as Mr. Adler’s campaign may wish otherwise–we’re not an arm of the White House, what we do have in common with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike is a serious concern about John Adler’s history of shady backroom deals, connections to secret taxpayer supported slush funds, and resume littered with the type of ethical troubles that have our current Congress mired at the lowest approval ratings in history.