State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville) has emerged as the leading Republican critic to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez in New Jersey, a hint that the Morris County legislator has his eye on the 2012 GOP U.S. Senate nomination. Pennacchio ran for U.S. Senate in 2008, but lost the Republican primary to former U.S. Rep. Richard Zimmer by 10,117 votes, a 46%-40% margin. Today, Pennacchio criticized Menendez for using ‘fearful, partisan tactics' in the national debate over health care reform.
"The Senator invokes ‘Sarah Palin' as if the very mention of her name will cause mass hysteria leading to unfettered support of the government's takeover of health care," Pennacchio said. "When I expressed concern that a government agency recommended drastic reductions in mammograms for women, the Senator calls this concern a scare tactic. Saying I was 'stirring up fabrications about rationed care.' Senator, it was the government you put so much faith in that made these recommendations, not me. Typical of liberal politicians when confronted by fiscal reality and facts, the Senator interjects words such as ‘fear, partisan, and myths' to sustain an otherwise unsustainable argument."
Menendez isn't the kind of guy to sit back and take punches. When Pennacchio wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Record criticizing the junior U.S. Senator, Menendez wrote back.