By Desiree Taylor
It’s the home stretch in Ninth Congressional District Primary race. And both Democratic candidates, Congressman Bill Pascrell and Congressman Steve Rothman, have political heavy hitters on their side to help them drum up support. Rothman joined President Obama in the oval office this morning. Pundits interpret this visit as a sign of support and gratitude because Rothman was the only New Jersey congressman to back Obama in the Presidential primary four years ago. Pascrell supported Hillary Clinton. Today, former President Bill Clinton came to Pascrell’s home turf in Paterson to show his support for Pascrell.
The reason these two longtime congressional colleagues and friends are facing off is because of redistricting. Scott Garrett, Rothman’s hometown, was thrown into Republican territory which would have forced him to run against conservative Congressman Scott Garrett. Instead, Rothman chose to move to Englewood, where he served as mayor decades ago, and challenge Pascrell in the new Ninth District. An editorial in The Record, supporting Pascrell, was critical of this move by Rothman saying “he abandoned more than 150,000 constituents.” Rothman defends his decision, saying his current district makes up the majority of the new Ninth.
Voters we spoke with have mixed opinions about the candidates. “We wanted to see Rothman run against Garrett,” said Lodi resident Frank Bruno. Despite this, Bruno said he favors Rothman, partly because he’s younger than Pascrell. But Cheryl Parent, who described herself as a registered Republican, said she prefers Pascrell. “I think he’s for the people,” said Parent. “You see him all over the place. He’s always giving back.”
Rothman does have a slight advantage in the new Ninth District. About 56 percent of his constituents are in it. And Rothman has more money. But an editorial in The Record accused him of waging a nasty campaign. It’s unclear if this will have any impact at the polls. Most voters we spoke with weren’t aware the election is Tuesday.