PRINCETON – Venture capitalist Scott Sipprelle kicked off his campaign for the 12th District Republican nomination for Congress by railing against government bailouts of the financial sector, the federal deficit and foreign debt.
“America needs to find a path back to job creation, a path that rewards work, innovation, and investment. But instead of empowering individuals to accomplish that goal, Washington persists in propping up bankrupt enterprises,” said Sipprelle in his speech at the Regency Hyatt, where about 150 people attended his well-choreographed event.
Sipprelle, a Mercer County Republican committeeman and author of a recently published Wall Street mystery novel, has never held office before. Tonight was the first public appearance of a campaign in which he is expected to face a competitive primary from Fair Haven Mayor Michael Halfacre, who has been campaigning for the GOP nomination for the better part of a year and has already sewn up a significant amount of support from the Republican establishment.
The two will then compete to take on an entrenched incumbent, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Princeton), who is running for his sixth term.
Although Holt enjoys a large Democratic registration advantage in the district, Republican Gov.-elect Chris Christie beat Gov. Jon Corzine there by 10 points. Republicans acknowledge an uphill battle against Holt, but believe that they may have a shot at winning if they can harness a national Republican wave similar to the one in 1994. Since the 2002 redistricting, Holt has consistently won reelection against nominal Republican challenges.
Despite his background as a hedge fund manager and former executive at Morgan Stanley — where, after leaving the firm he started a movement that ousted its CEO, Phil Purcell – Sipprelle struck a populist tone. He mentioned his middle-class roots, putting himself through college with student loans, called the federal deficit “a national disgrace and a sad symbol of our legislative decay,” and said that most politicians “are so focused on their own careers that they don’t listen to the concerns, the wisdom, and the solutions that bubble up from the American people living in the real world.”
Halfacre, for his part, issued a press release two hours before Sipprelle’s event listing the support of over 50 elected and party officials.
There were a few Mercer County elected officials in attendance at Sipprelle’s event, but what he lacks in endorsements he is expected to make up for with deep pockets. One Republican present said that Sipprelle has discussed starting off his campaign with $250,000 of his own funds, and contributing up to $1 million if need be. Halfacre had only raised about $60,000 as of September 30.
Sipprelle would not go into specifics on finances, but argued that they could make the difference in a general election with Holt.
“I think the issues facing this community, this state and this country are too important to have a candidate that does not have the resources to get that message heard,” he said in a brief interview after his speech.
Sipprelle said that he offers something else that neither Holt or Halfacre can match.
“I think I have the experience of somebody who started with nothing, worked hard, played by the rules, and built a family, business and jobs – that that is the type of experience that I can bring to the political process,” he said. “That makes me unique versus Mike or versus Rush Holt.”
Sipprelle said that both major political parties bear some responsibility for what he perceives as a lack of action on energy, financial market reform and job creation.
On abortion, Sipprelle said that he recognizes Roe v. Wade as “the law of the land,” but wants to work to reduce the number of abortions.