CHERRY HILL – More than 200 supporters of state Sen. Donald Norcross (D-5) assembled at the Caffe Aldo Lamberti on Marlton Pike in Cherry Hill to raise funds for Norcross’ campaign to take over the First Congressional District seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1), who resigned in February.
Norcross’ backers at the reported $2,600-a-plate fundraiser included prominent national and New Jersey names, including South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross III, Donald’s brother, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). State Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6) and a host of other South Jersey Dems were also present.
But yards away in a grassy knoll down the block, two Republican candidates declared that they believe grass-roots support matters more than money.
“Harry Reid has accomplished something that no one in the 200-year-plus history of the United States has never done – he has assumed czar-like powers and has taken over the U.S. Senate in a way that no one has ever succeeded in doing before,” said GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Bell before more than 100 supporters from an array of conservative groups, including local Republican and Tea Party groups, as he held up a bullhorn. “We need six seats to take over the U.S. Senate. Given the recent polls and the souring of the voters of New Jersey on [U.S. President Barack] Obama and Mr. Reid, New Jersey has one-sixth of the answer.”
Bell’s poll reference alluded in part to a recent New York Times-CBS poll that showed Bell within seven points of incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who is seeking a full six-year term in November. Yet Bell still suffers from a dearth of campaign cash, while Booker has a close to $3 million war chest.
“The Democratic Party has become the party of big money,” Bell told PolitickerNJ. “Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Wall Street – the Democrats totally dominate [the first two], and they’re increasingly dominating Wall Street. Booker is a great Wall Street fundraiser.
“I have some momentum, but it’s far from certain,” Bell added. “My guess is that there is a kind of inflection point against President Obama. I think New Jersey, as blue as it’s been in recent election cycles, has come to a tipping point against him, and that’s hurt Senator Booker.”
Garry Cobb, the Republican Congressional candidate up against Norcross, told PolitickerNJ that on a local level, he believes voters are approaching a tipping point against Norcross and the rest of his powerful family.
“[The Norcrosses] cut these deals, they use Camden as a way to say ‘Hey, let’s help Camden.’ Camden doesn’t get helped. The Norcrosses get helped. Nothing changes,” Cobb, of Cherry Hill, a former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker and a WIP radio co-host. “If Donald Norcross were to go to Congress, he’d be representing George Norcross and his friends, not the average person. That’s who is coming in here [to the fundraiser] today – people are paying to be able to do business in South Jersey. That’s what they’re doing, and they do it right out in front of everybody.”
“This November the voters of South Jersey will have a clear choice between a Tea Party Republican and someone who has challenged the status quo while working with Republicans and Democrats to get meaningful things done for middle-class families,” said Norcross campaign spokesman Ken Shuttleworth in response. “The contrast could not be more clear.”