An apparently un-competitive election has turned into a crucible of passionate emotions in Hudson county. At issue – the characterization in a cartoon on a handout of a long-shot Republican challenger, who today entered the office of one of two Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) darlings in LD31 demanding answers and getting tossed in the process.
“I’m beside myself,” said Matthew Kopko, angered by a doctored photo of himself in KKK garb that he said his rival’s campaign is distributing in black neighborhoods, what he called a disgraceful and wholly unfair and racist tactic.
His frustration caused him to go to the work place of Angela McKnight of Jersey City, a newcomer who’s running on the HCDO line.
McKnight alleged that Kopko entered AngealCARES, a non-profit organization McKnight founded and promptly went ballistic. Kopko, who’s run a relatively energetic campaign in the heavily Democratic district, was irritated – McKnight’s allies say “enraged” – over a copy of the flyer he received and began screaming and threatening, according to the Democratic candidate.
Kopko disagreed with McKnight’s recollection of events, calling the Democrat’s campaign’s chronicling of what happened this morning “a lie.” “I asked to see Angela, her staff invited me in, I showed her the poster her campaign is putting out of my face photo-shopped on a klansman holding a noose,” Kopko told PolitickerNJ.
The McKnight Campaign recalled the incident as follows:
“The office was filled with both seniors and children,” said McKnight Press Secretary Asheenia Johnson. “Mrs. McKnight asked Kopko to leave. He refused, yelling, ‘I’ll do what the f**k I want’ and gestured as if he was about to harm Mrs.McKnight. The children in the office were terrified and the seniors, fearing for Mrs. McKnight’s safety, attempted to calm Kopko and escort him from the office. Kopko resisted and continued raging and cursing. When he finally left, he slammed the door of the office so violently it shook the building. Mrs. McKnight is currently being escorted to the Jersey City Police Department to file a complaint. The children and seniors present in the office are being attended to and they are in fair emotional condition.”
Kopko shot back, “Of course, you know this is a lie. … I asked her if this is her idea of a political ad. I told her this is why good people don’t run for office. They asked me to leave. And I left.” Kopko said journalists were present who would dispute the McKnight Campaign’s account.
The disgusted GOP candidate said McKnight’s team is distributing fliers that include an offensive picture of himself in klansman attire in heavily African-American Ward F. “The headline should be ‘McKnight Team Distributes Slanderous, Racist Flyer’,” said the Republican. “Her whole statement is a lie to cover up what they did.”
McKnight and Nicholas Chiaravalloti later in the day released the following statement regarding an irresponsible flyer being distributed and the recent alleged assault by their opponent Kopko:
“The McKnight/Chiaravalloti campaign had nothing to do with the creation or distribution of the reprehensible flyer attacking our opponent. Despite facing a constant barrage of negative personal attacks, we have run a clean, issues oriented campaign focused on what matters most to the residents of the 31st legislative district.
“Despite our goodwill and positive campaign message, today, our opponent threatened a number of volunteers of our campaign and also verbally assaulted Mrs. McKnight. This is politics at its lowest form and we will not stand for it.
“As a result, we will be pursuing a claim against Mr. Kopko to the fullest extent of the law. No one should be treated the way Mrs. McKnight was treated today. No one.”