When Rep. Steve Rothman decided he was running against Democratic colleague and friend Bill Pascrell, Jr. in the newly drawn Ninth congressional district, he gave Pascrell a call to inform him of his decision. Upon hearing the news, Pascrell thought “With friends like that, I don’t need enemies.”
Congressman Pascrell joined Managing Editor Mike Schneider for an in-depth discussion about the upcoming Democratic June Primary race in the Ninth.
Pascrell promised to run a hard campaign in the new towns in Bergen and Hudson counties in the redrawn district.
He has received many endorsements in Passaic County while Steve Rothman recently won the Democratic party’s nomination in Bergen County.
Pascrell said he also has the support of many labor unions. While endorsements are nice, he said he doesn’t rely on them.
“I’m a fighter. I’ve never asked anybody to carry my water. I’ve always done it my myself. I come from Paterson. This is what we learn. You don’t start a fight but you intend to finish it. And I intend to finish it.”
In an interview he gave to NJToday, Rothman asserted that he was the Progressive Democrat’s choice, pointing to Pascrell’s voting record in Congress on issues such as border control and a woman’s right to choose.
Pascrell countered Rothman’s assertion, saying he’s been fighting for the middles class since 1996 in the U.S. Congress. “There’s a lot that I have to do yet. Elections are about the future not just about your voting record or the past.”
Pascrell was asked about a letter that was circulating urging Jewish congregations to encourage Republican members to vote in the Democratic primary in favor of Rothman who is Jewish. Pascrell refused to be distracted by the issue, saying that religion should not have any part in an election.
Ultimately, he said the question for voters will come down to “What are you doing for me and can I get to you?”
At 75, Pascrell said that he is not bothered by questions concerning his age. “I have more energy now than I had 35 years ago.”
He also spoke of his bipartisanship and ability to bring different groups together.
“I’m a person that could be a yellow dog Democrat working hard for the middle class, working poor. But I have also reached out. My history is that when I introduce legislation, I always like Republicans on it. I chose to do it that way when I was in state legislature and that’s how you get things done. When you can bring people together, you get things done.”