Democrats are stirring it up in the raging family feud of a GOP primary in South Jersey's Third Congressional District.
The state Democratic Committee financed a brochure, which began arriving in Republican households in Burlington County yesterday. It attacks candidate Chris Myers of Medford, sending a signal that Democrats are picking a preferred opponent for the fall - Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly.
Myers' campaign took the attack as confirmation that Myers is a better general election candidate. Kelly's campaign declined to comment.
"They're afraid of Chris Myers," said Myers' campaign manager Chris Russell.
The brochure attacks Myers in his role as Medford's mayor and as a township councilman, repeating charges leveled by Kelly that Myers raised taxes in Medford. Myers said Kelly and the Democrats are exaggerating.
While Democrats readily took credit for the attack piece, spokesman Rich McGrath said Myers "has such a failed record, we acted to communicate just some of those facts with the voters because they have a right to know."
Democrats are playing hard for this seat. Their candidate, state Sen. John Adler (D., Camden), has raised over $1 million for his race and has no primary opponent in the contest to succeed retiring Congressman Jim Saxton, a Republican.
Adler took the early support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which believes that the demographics have changed enough in this traditionally Republican district that Adler can win.
As Republicans have been wrangling, Adler has been quietly trying to build up himself among voters. The district includes his home of Cherry Hill and runs through Burlington and Ocean Counties.
So far in this race, Myers and Kelly agree on most issues and have attacked each other's character.
On the one issue they do disagree on - building a fence between the United States and Mexico - Kelly found a way to attack Myers' character.
Kelly wants to build the fence. Myers says because illegal immigrants will find a way under or around the fence, there should be a high-tech monitoring system to keep an eye on the border.
Kelly says Myers is really trying to favor his employer, Lockheed Martin, which developed a monitoring system. Myers flatly denied that and adds that Boeing Co. - and not Lockheed Martin - got the monitoring system contract.
To push the immigration issue even further, Kelly announced yesterday that his hard line on illegal immigration earned him the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, founder of the sometimes controversial civilian border patrol group called the Minuteman Project.
Myers toughest attacks on Kelly have targeted his job history. He says Kelly took a patronage job at the Atlantic City airport to pad his pension and profited from payments the airport gave him for not using its health-care plan.
Kelly argues that he worked for his pay, which he used to support his family.