The gloves have come off in a previously placid campaign for a U.S. Senate seat.
A television ad by U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12) released Monday morning has rankled the campaign for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, which shot back at the longtime Congressman by afternoon, saying the ad distorts the mayor's positions while obfuscating Holt's less-than-progressive record.
Holt released a 30-second television ad aimed straight at Booker—who leads the Democratic pack of four by a wide margin in the latest polls—attacking the mayor on climate change, Wall Street banks and warrantless civilian spying.
"We need to pass a carbon tax to stop climate change, break up the Wall Street banks, and stop the government spying on innocent Americans. Cory Booker doesn’t support any of these ideas," Holt says in the ad.
Not true, Booker’s campaign said.
"It's disappointing that Representative Holt would mislead voters about Mayor Booker’s record,” Booker spokesman Kevin Griffis said in a release. "Given the timing, New Jersey voters should expect more of these same false attacks in tonight’s debate."
A live Democratic primary debate is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on NJTV. It will be the first debate that Booker has attended and one of just two he has agreed to attend. The second, a radio debate, is scheduled for Thursday.
Booker has not taken a public stand on climate change nor on breaking up Wall Street banks, his campaign said. But the campaign was particularly upset about the reference to Booker’s position on civilian spying.
"Setting aside the obvious—that no one in any election ever has supported 'government spying on innocent Americans’'– the mayor has in fact said numerous times in public forums that the PATRIOT Act needs to be reformed to strengthen privacy rights—and it’s even discussed on Booker’s own website," the release says.
The Booker campaign also chastised Holt for his 2001 vote in favor of the Patriot Act, which is often cited as laying the foundation for civilian surveillance, and for voting to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act—a Depression-era law de-regulated Wall Street and many say allowed for the financial collapse from which the country is still recovering.
Holt has publicly said he regrets the vote to repeal Glass-Steagall.
The Holt campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Booker and Holt are campaigning to be the Democratic pick to run for the U.S. Senate seat of the late Frank Lautenberg. U.S. Rep Frank Pallone (D-6) and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) also are vying in the primary election, which is scheduled for Aug. 13.