There has been a lot of talk about the Democratic primary in the ninth district with Steve Rothman taking on Bill Pascrell. Rothman moved from the newly redrawn fifth district to face Pascrell instead of running against veteran Republican Scott Garrett. Garrett said he was unsure what would happen with the redistricting and was prepared to run against anyone to retain his seat in the fifth district. Garrett sat down with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss the local race, his time in Congress and the presidential race.
Garrett said when the congressional consolidation action was taken, he was unsure what would happen. “Of course they were drawn in such a way that somebody had to be in somebody else’s district. And you never want that to be you. But at the end of the day it was me,” he said. “They put Steve [Rothman] and I in the exact same district so we knew that potentially was going to be a real challenge there.”
While Garrett said he takes every race very seriously and always runs his hardest, he admitted “it would have been different” running against Rothman. Garrett said the two saw each other in December before the redistricting and didn’t see each other again until after Rothman decided to move to the Ninth district. Garrett said he wishes both Rothman and Pascrell well. “I know Steve and I know Bill,” Garrett said. “We serve together in the House. We’re friends.”
Garrett was elected to Congress in 2002 and began serving in 2003. He said the biggest surprise to him has been the intensity of the position. “I did serve in state government prior to that. In state government what I found is you would have a big issue and that big issue would last for months and months and months and you’d finally resolve it. In Washington, it seems like every week that you go down there, it is another crisis issue,” he said. “There is another big issue and you have to resolve it this week because next week you’re going to have another explosive issue coming.”
According to Garrett, while the crises are legitimate because they’re naturally occurring, they’re illegitimate in another way because the federal government has gotten so large. He gave education as an example. “The federal government 50 years ago was not so involved with primary education and college education, but all of a sudden it is,” he said. “All of a sudden there might be a huge issue in education down there you have to deal with this week and that’s really created by the nature of Washington trying to solve every single problem for the United States.”
When asked if he would prefer Ron Paul be the Republican nominee for president instead of Mitt Romney, Garrett said, “I would like that Romney would be able to listen to some of the suggestions not only of Ron Paul but the other candidates who are running as well. I think each one of them brought something to the table.”
Garrett said that he believed Romney would do a good job as president. “He brings a business background to the table. He brings an executive position to the table as a governor as well,” he said. “Two things that we need in Washington right now.”