A day after eating a tough luck headline about a Democrat changing party affiliation and backing 38th District Republicans, state Sen. Robert Gordon, (D-38), Fair Lawn, and his team went on offense.
At issue is opponent Bergen County Freeholder Chairman John Driscoll, who’s GOP Primary challenge in particular had him enaged on the rightward flank of his party.
Gordon said it’s too far right, as far as he’s concerned, adopting in this battleground contest what has become a common Democratic Party attack line in races statewide and the second time the senator has hit the Tea Party alarm: highlighting the Republican Party’s Tea Party problem.
Driscoll Campaign Manager Edith Jorge said the Democrats are desperately fixating on the Tea Party, noting that Driscoll defeated a Tea Party challenger just three months ago.
“In the primary he wasn’t Republican enough and in the general he’s not liberal enough,” Jorge told PolitickerNJ.com.
Gordon believes the connection is significant, especially now with news that Republicans in the House of Representatives continue to hold up additional FEMA funding until they find cuts to offset. Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s approved up to $7,795,700 – with an initial release of $2,598,567 – in National Emergency Grant funds to the state of New Jersey. The funds are designed to create 500 temporary jobs for eligible workers to assist with clean-up and recovery efforts as a result of Hurricane Irene’s effects.
The senator blamed the Tea Party for holding essential relief for flood victims hostage to Washington politics, reminding voters that Driscoll served as a speaker at Tea Party rallies this year and toured Bergen County with U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett, (R-Wantage), one of the “Tea Party’s Congressional darlings,” in Gordon’s words.
The state senator said Garrett has aligned himself with the right wing of his party in holding flood relief for Bergen families as a pawn in political dealings, and pointed to a Driscoll quote in Tuesday’s Record in which the GOP challenger said regarding flood relief, “people need to understand that the help needs to come from the federal government.”
“With his uncanny ability to speak out of both sides of his mouth with a straight face, John Driscoll would fit in perfect with Trenton’s Republicans,” said Gordon. “But people don’t want empty words, they want action. They don’t want to hear politicians pandering and kicking the can to someone else, they want to see officials working to solve the problem. And, most importantly, they don’t want politicians who toss their finger into the political wind before talking, they want honest brokers who stand on principle to help our communities.
“I am committed to working directly with state and local officials to get every penny of aid our communities need to rebuild, and to work with the countless constituents who have already contacted me to get their lives rebuilt. If all John Driscoll can offer is a pointed finger, that’s shameful.”
Responding to the attack, Driscoll said he stood up at the last Bergen County Freeholders’ meeting and said “do not play political games with flood relief.”
As for his history with the Tea Party, “I spoke at one Tea Party rally on the green when I ran in 2009, and did because I was sick and tired of seniors trying to keep up with the taxes of (then Bergen County Executive Dennis) McNerney.”
The GOP challenger reversed engines on Gordon, saying the senator “forgets to point out that he was a soldier for the administrations of Jim McGreevey and Jon Corzine.”
Moreover, he harped on Gordon’s financial support from the New Jersey Teachers’ association, which gave in total $6,000 to the Democratic lawmaker.
“I believe in smaller government,” Driscoll said. “I see some of the Tea Party groups in Bergen and there are some Democrats in that audience. There are a lot of disgruntled Democrats in that audience. Look, I won’t name call. When I ran for freeholder, I knew that my job is to represent everyone. To sit there and label people is just name-calling and I’m disappointed that the state senator would lower himself like that.”
The Bergen Freeholder director noted that he disagreed with Garrett on flood relief, saying relief has nothing to do with the spending question.