MONTCLAIR – On the same day he was politically brickbatted by the chief adviser to the last Republican challenger to incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), GOP Senate candidate Jeff Bell stood by a key plank of policy platform: monetary reform that includes a return to the gold standard.
“A lot of people say why are you talking about [the gold standard], because your audiences are falling asleep. But not one of those people has gone to look at my audiences,” said Bell after speaking at an event sponsored by the Montclair Republicans at a Bloomfield Avenue restaurant on Tuesday night. “The Fed is in a bind. When I put it in those terms, it’s a very lively reaction.”
Bell’s comments countered a lively statement from Rick Shaftan, the political operative who advised Republican candidate Steve Lonegan is his 11-point loss to Booker in last year’s special election.
“Bell’s running where Steve was running,” Shaftan told PolitickerNJ, referring to recent polling that show Bell running between 11 and 13 points behind Booker with an underfunded campaign. “I think they think they can’t win. I think they can win more than the campaign thinks it can win. Their first ad Bell wants to talk about the gold standard? That tells me he’s more interested in an issue than winning.”
“I know that people are going to say ‘I told you so’ if I lose. That’s fine,” Bell replied. “But I think the gold standard is the most important thing we can do with the economy. It’s the first order of business to turn the economy around. I have a lot of optimism about the willingness of voters in New Jersey to consider a big idea.”
Booker also leads Bell in a more specific poll released on Tuesday. A Stockton Polling Institute poll shows the Democratic incumbent leading the GOP challenger by nine percentage points in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District. The race in the Ocean and Burlington counties-based district between Democrat Aimee Belgard and Republican Tom MacArthur is seen by some political observers as being too close to call.
When asked by PolitickerNJ if he was worried that his Senate candidacy might be an albatross around the neck of MacArthur’s bid in CD 3, Bell scoffed at the idea.
“I’ve been in touch with Mr. MacArthur, and he’s been very supportive. I’ve been in touch with [Ocean County Republican Chairman] George Gilmore and [Burlington County Republican Chairman] Bill Layton, and they’re all on board,” Bell said. “I don’t see any attempt in Ocean or Burlington to cut me out of the ticket. My next financial report will show that Tom MacArthur maxed out to my campaign [for $2,600]. That to me is a good proof that we’re working together, not against each other.”