Observers outside the 6th Congressional District who watched Gov. Chris Christie’s hearty endorsement of Highlands Mayor Anna Little on YouTube and his denunciation of U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) as one of the prime architects of “Obamacare” thought Christie might be acting less out of urgency to defeat Pallone than revenge over Pallone’s aggressive attacks on then-U.S. Attorney Christie’s use of deferred proseution agreements for powerful companies that had broken the law.
Payback time for Pallone was the conclusion in some quarters, and a GOP chance to terrorize the veteran congressman and get him to unload some of his $4 million-plus warchest. Essex sources say they have seen Pallone in that northern Democratic County frequently this year, fueling speculation that he’s widening his face time with future statewide intentions.
But Democratic Party sources in Middlesex and Monmouth don’t believe Christie’s purpose with the Little ad, and his increased appearances with Tea Party candidate Little at campaign events, signify simply the governor’s intent to wound Pallone as the congressman eyes future statewide office.
They believe Christie sees the potential in this environment of Little to win, in a district that overwhelmingly favors Pallone on paper.
The Pallone campaign to date contrasts sharply with that of two other Democratic incumbents, both of whom Christie has, to this point anyway, left unchallenged by his overt campaign presence.
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell Twp.) launched his campaign with an immediate attack ad against Republican challenger Scott Sipprelle of Hopewell Twp., seeking to define the Republican before the venture capitalist further defined Holt. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), meanwhile, affixed himself vigorously to the freeholder and sheriff’s campaigns in his home county in a team struggle concept.
Now in attack mode late, the Pallone campaign did not engage Little aggressively early the way Holt engaged Sipprelle. And – much to the consternation of county committte members in Monmouth – Pallone did not bind himself to local campaigns, choosing to focus more on Middlesex than Monmouth.
Middlesex Democratc sources fear the volatility in this election of so-called “Reagan Democrats” in their county – which went for Christie over Jon Corzine last year by three points – who may vote for Little as the alternative to an incumbent, unaware of her positions and alert only to the notion that she is not Pallone or any other incumbent.
Whatever payback factor exists for Christie, Republicans – and fearful Democrats – see in Little, trailing Pallone by fewer than ten points in the latest Monmouth University poll, a win factor.