The battle for New Jersey’s 9th Congressional district has become one of the hottest races in the country. A new legislative map resulted in a fight between two Democratic incumbents: Bill Pascrell v. Steve Rothman. Managing Editor Mike Schneider sat down with Rep. Steve Rothman who defended his decision to run in the newly drawn 9th District against former friend and ally Pascrell.
Rothman, a life-long resident of Bergen County, is a two-term Englewood Mayor and served 16 years in the United States Congress.
“Just because the New Jersey Redistricting Commission snipped off the town of Fairlawn where I was living in a house doesn’t mean I don’t want to represent the people that I was born and raised with and grew up with and have represented all of these years. So my house is up for sale in Fairlawn and I moved back to Englewood.”
Rothman identified himself as the progressive Democrat’s clear choice in the June Primary, citing differences between his and Pascrell’s voting records in Congress.
“Bill’s a good guy, but if you look at our two voting records in Congress, you’ll see that mine is the far more progressive Democratic voting record. For example, Bill voted to have a fence along the border with Mexico. Bill voted to put restrictions on a woman’s right to choose. Bill voted for the bank bailout and Bill voted to remove the public option from the affordable healthcare act.”
Rothman, who is Jewish, was asked about a controversy surrounding letters sent to Republican Orthodox rabbis asking them to register to vote in the Democratic primary in his favor. But he denied that the letters were generated by his campaign.
“Some Republican rabbis wrote to their synagogue members and said: ‘Steve Rothman is much better on the issue of the US-Israel relationship. It’s important that we don’t lose him. And if you’re a Republican, register to be a Democrat because it’s a Democratic district and we want to have the best person represent us in Congress.'”
The Rothman campaign got a boost from the Bergen County Democratic Party Thursday, winning the county party’s nomination by a landslide.
“I was just nominated last night by the Bergen County Democratic organization in a contested election with Bill Pascrell … I got 82 percent of the vote at the convention.”
Rothman has been criticized by members within his own party for running against Pascrell. He said he wasn’t interested in representing Warren or Sussex county, as others have recommended, and would rather represent the new towns of the redrawn 9th District.
“I want to do for the new towns of the 9th District – Paterson, Passaic, Clifton, Haledon and Prospect Park – what I’ve done for the old 9th District which was to bring home more than $2.2 billion in great projects: roads, sewers, bridges, hospitals, new jobs, throughout our district. I want to do that for the new towns.”