A Republican Disgrace

Marcia Karrow picked a strange day to smear Mike Doherty.

Two years ago, the New Jersey GOP, lead by State Chairman Tom Wilson and Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce, issued a statement condemning a Republican consultant for a direct mail piece “used as an attack on a colleague”, calling that attack “inappropriate and offensive” and “not representing the values embraced by our party.”

The statement went on to state that the consultant who produced the advertisement had “crossed a line and we believe it would no longer be appropriate for him to do work on behalf of any candidate running as a Republican in this state.”

Here we are two years later and a different Republican consultant has attacked a different colleague in an “inappropriate and offensive” way that, I hope, doesn’t represent “the values embraced by our party.” I’m still waiting to hear the GOP establishment’s moral outrage.

Here’s the story: Assemblyman Mike Doherty is challenging Senator Marcia Karrow in the 23rd district. Doherty is running with Steve Lonegan and Karrow is Christie.

Karrow chose Memorial Day weekend to put out a direct mailer and a robo-call that accused Mike Doherty of supporting "Surrender in Iraq".

This is the same Mike Doherty who, after graduating from West Point, served for eight years in the United States Army. Mike was a missile defense officer on the trip wire between the West and the Soviet Union.

Mike and his wife, Linda, have three grown sons in military service. Their son Ryan just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps. He will shortly be redeployed to Afghanistan. Their son Matt is set to be deployed to Iraq with the United States Army. Their son Jared is stationed on remote duty in another hot spot – near the North-South Korean border – with the U.S. Air Force.

Can anyone name a single Republican official in all New Jersey with more at stake when it comes to the defense of America?

The author of the direct mail/ robo-call attack was Chris Christie’s political consultant, Jamestown Associates. Karrow’s and Christie’s mail use the same colors and type-face.

On Sunday, Steve Lonegan held a press conference and called on Christie, his campaign chairman, Senator Joe Kyrillos, and co-chairman, Senator Tom Kean Jr., to disavow this attack on the patriotism of a military veteran whose entire family is serving their country in harm’s way.

Instead of standing up for a fellow American, a fellow elected official, a fellow Republican – these three hid and didn’t return calls. You notice that I didn’t say “fellow veteran”, because these three have no military experience and really can’t contemplate what it’s like to be in uniform or to have someone in uniform – let alone every child in your family.

The Hunterdon GOP really is the limit. Last year their candidate was in a physical altercation with a local elected official. Last week, one establishment supporter wrote that an independent Republican candidate for Freeholder – a 40-something mother of three – deserved to be “bitch slapped”. Hunterdon County is a rural county with a nasty GOP machine worthy of some of the more notorious inner cities.

Not content with attacking Mike Doherty, we hear that this machine is preparing an attack on Mike’s wife. Yes, word has it that they are going to attack the mother of those three boys putting their lives on the line.

If that happens, we should hold the following men responsible: Hunterdon GOP boss Henry Kuhl, Freeholder Erik Peterson, Freeholder Matt Holt, Freeholder Ronald Sworen, Freeholder George Melick, and Freeholder William Mennen. A check of the Freeholders’ biographies doesn’t list military service for any of them.

This smear isn’t going to go away. Letters and e-mails are being sent across the country about this. Veterans – and people just plain tired with this kind of swiftboating are coming together to end this kind of thing.

How can an entire party stand by and allow this military family to be attacked as unpatriotic, when the leaders of that party stand behind the protective shield fashioned from the lives of the Doherty boys and their compatriots? It is beneath contempt.

I’m issuing a challenge to those same Republicans who signed that statement in 2007 to speak up now. Let’s hear from the following legislators about this: Alex DeCroce, Pete Biondi, Dave Russo, Chris Connors, Brian Rumpf, Jim Holzopfel, David Wolfe, Sean Kean, Jennifer Beck, Sam Thompson, Amy Handlin, Bill Baroni, Kip Bateman, Jon Bramnick, Alison McHose, Michael Patrick Carroll, Rick Merkt, Joe Pennacchio, Joe Malone, Ron Dancer, John Rooney, Charlotte Vandervalk, Kevin O’Toole, and – yes, she signed it in 2007 – Marcia Karrow. If 2007 was more than a cheap act of political revenge, you will stand up and say something.

And I’m asking elected officials, community leaders, and citizens from whatever party affiliation, to speak up and to condemn this vile, cowardly attack on a distinguished veteran, his wife, and three sons serving in harm’s way. The swiftboating has got to end!

A Republican Disgrace