Scott Garrett will not run unopposed

As I’ve written in the recent past, the BCDO has been hesitant (to say the least) in endorsing anyone to run for Congress against radical right winger Scott Garrett.  And it wasn’t too long ago that State Senator Paul Sarlo said that it was time for a change – to let a candidate from Warren or Sussex County emerge to take on Garrett.

That time is now, as Warren County resident Tod Theise has answered the call and announced his candidacy against Garrett.  In his statement to the press, Thiese noted the following contrast between him and Garrett:

“I don’t think he represents working families in the district,” Theise said. “He voted against extending unemployment benefits … he voted for every [George W.] Bush budget.”

A former Republican, Theise became an independent in the early part of the last decade and then migrated to the Democratic Party. He said his reasons for the leaving the Republicans were the spending policies and lack of Wall Street regulation under Bush.

His criticisms of Garrett are similar.

“What I find lacking is that he gives the people on Wall Street a complete and utter pass,” Theise said. “He is basically bought and sold by Wall Street.”

Now, I’ve met Tod and spoken to him numerous times over the past few months as he has been moving towards a run at Garrett.  There are a few things about this candidacy that I like personally – for starters, it will be interesting to see how a non-Bergen County challenger plays out – especially in the current climate where being associated with the BCDO isn’t the best of associations right around now.  Additionally, I’ve always thought that lowering the 60%+ of the vote that Garrett routinely gets in Warren and Sussex counties is imperative – that this race cannot be won in Bergen alone.  I also like the views and approach that Tod is taking on a number of issues – but this will come out over the next few months as the campaign gets under way.  

Of course, this is one of the most uphill battles in general, as Garrett has never gotten less than 55% of the vote in his 4 previous races.  But you never know what can happen in an election, and there has been unprecedented focus on Garrett by a number of grassroots organizations in the District (ahem….).

Garrett himself didn’t have any comments on Theise’s candidacy, but “FakeGarrettNJ5” on Twitter had the following to say:

A challenger? I will crush him like I crush the souls of hardworking struggling families in the District.

Comments (20)

  1. Bertin Lefkovic

    Is it true that Garrett is actually getting a primary challenge from his right?

    If so, you may want to try to take advantage of the fact that there is not going to be a contested primary on the Democratic side by encouraging registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters to register as Republicans and vote against Garrett in the Republican primary.

    If a primary challenger could beat Garrett in the primary, he would most likely be more vulnerable in the general election than Garrett.

  2. Rosi Efthim

    When he’s ready to, I’d like to invite Tod to post here. We’d like to get to know him, and hear more about the race he intends to run, and how he would voting differently if he was in Congress replacing Scott Garrett.  

  3. avant1963

    Keeping Dean’s 50 State Strategy alive sometimes will give surprising results… good to have a contender and hopefully Theise will prove to be a worthy opponent to Garrett.  Anything to shed more light on his horrific record in the MSM.  Without an real opponent, he gets a free pass.

  4. brilliantatbreakfast

    I realize that perhaps “anyone with a pulse” is better than anointing Garrett “Congressman for Life” (as I called Garrett in a letter to the Bergen Record which will probably appear today or tomorrow.  But I’m very skeptical of these “Republicans-turned-Democrats.”  After the Eric Massa mess, I’m wondering if these recent converts are actually moles for the Republicans.

    I’m also concerned about Theise’s political instincts.  Painting Garrett a “friend of Wall Street” is NOT going to get him Bergen County votes, where a lot of people WORK on Wall Street.

    The key to beating Garrett is exposing him as the worst kind of extreme right-wing ideologue.  When Matt Fretz ran as an independent in 2006, people asked him why he was running against Marge [Roukema].  I kid you not.  In Bergen, a sizable number of people have no idea that she isn’t still in Congress.  A sizable number more have no idea what Garrett is, since he hides his slavish adherence to right-wing ideology behind carefully-worded mailings.

    If Theise can’t figure this out, he hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell.

  5. SKY

    I am not suprised of your skeptism. Didn’t you do the same with Dennis Shulman. Just double checking how supportive you are with anyone who comes forward to challenge Garrett.

    Proof your own comments when Shulman was running

    A question for Dr. Shulman (0.00 / 0)

    I’d like to know where Dr. Shulman stands on telecom immunity.  I realize that he is not going to have an impact on this vote, but given that Rep. Steny Hoyer appeared with him on Monday, and Hoyer is one of the biggest apologists in Congress for the role the telecom industry paid in George W. Bush’s illegal wiretapping of innocent Americans, I’d like to know if Dr. Shulman agrees with Hoyer that the Constitution is moot when campaign contributions from the telecom industry are at stake.

    Of course this isn’t Hoyer’s official position.  But with Hoyer at the forefront of the move to exonerate Big Telecom, it’s important to me to know that Dr. Shulman represents a shift from this kind of sellout thinking or if he  


    by: brilliantatbreakfast @ Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 07:20:24 AM CDT


    oops (4.00 / 1)

    I hate when my PC thinks I’m ready to send.  The rest of this should read “…or if he, if faced with a similar vote, would vote with senior House members.

    This is exactly the kind of issue where a “change” candidate needs to take a stand to restore the rule of law to the executive branch and to corporations.

    by: brilliantatbreakfast @ Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 07:22:36 AM CDT

    RE (0.00 / 0)

    Glenn Greenwald at, along with a coalition of bloggers, has gone after Hoyer.  He,  and others, have also gone after two Blue Dog Dems, Chris Carney (D-PA) and John Barrow (D-GA).

    In addition, he has castigated Comcast for refusing to run an ad urging Carney to change his position.

    Today, he noted that Obama, the candidate of change, has taped an ad for Barrow, who is being challenged by a progressive candidate.

    Strange world we live in when a Congressional “compromise” gives Bush everything he wants and more.

    Please Dr. Shulman, take our side on this one.  It’s too important.


    by: SmartyJones @ Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 10:51:15 AM CDT

    [ Parent ]


    Even if his position on your pet issue isn’t perfect, (0.00 / 0)

    then he would still be a hundred times better than Garrett.  This isn’t some moderate Republican who will vote the right way a fair percentage of the time.  This is someone who delights in being on the far right edge.


    by: Creed Pogue @ Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 11:26:18 AM CDT

    That’s not my point at all (0.00 / 0)

    My point isn’t that if Shulman supports telecom immunity I’m voting for Garrett, and frankly, “Whatever, he’s better than Garrett” isn’t the issue.  Of course he’s better than Garrett.  Richard Nixon would be better than Scott Garrett.  The issue is that Dr. Shulman has appeared with Steny Hoyer, Hoyer is one of the biggest sellouts in the House, and if I’m going to be voting for someone, I want to know where he stands.  Are you saying I don’t have a right to know?


    by: brilliantatbreakfast @ Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:08:06 PM CDT

    [ Parent ]


    Now who’s changing the argument? 🙂 (0.00 / 0)

    You were saying you wanted Shulman’s position on an issue because you’re against Hoyer’s position on it.  You didn’t say anything about supporting or working for Shulman regardless of the answer or even whether you felt it would help win votes from anyone other than you.

    Smarty then jumped on your bandwagon and also upped the ante with the Ringwood dump.  I didn’t suggest that Smarty could do some more direct research since I know that she doesn’t live in the state.

    But, campaigns like Shulman’s are underfunded insurgent efforts.  There are plenty of people who want to be “chiefs.”  There are never enough people who are willing to be “grunts” to get the work done.  

    If you truly want to help a candidate like Shulman, instead of throwing down a gauntlet, instead put together the information and communicate with the campaign in a manner that indicates a desire to help and work.


    by: Creed Pogue @ Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:36:00 PM CDT

    [ Parent ]


    Creed (0.00 / 0)

    I know you are the ultimate practical poilitical commenter on this blog.  But I have some questions.

    Do you think Dr. Shulman’s campaign people read Blue Jersey?  I do.

    Do you think the Shulman campaign is interested in what its supporters think?  I do.

    Do you think that doing the ‘grunt work’ is the only way to support a campaign?  I don’t, although I would urge everyone who has the time and energy to do so.

    I live in north Jersey about half the year.  Whether I’m there or not, I try to follow the political scene, both in the 5th CD and locally.

    There are a lot of sophisticated people in the area.  Despite that, the main areas of political influence are the local fish wraps, local events and lawn signs.  People don’t care for political phone calls, no matter who is doing it.  And not everyone owns a computer.

    So, when I’m there, I do what I can.

    As for the Ringwood “dump,” as you call it, I know you don’t care very much about because it does not affect Estelle Manor, but it is important to the folks living amid it.  It affects their lives and their health.  Dr. Shulman posits a green philosophy on his website.  By connecting with the people affected by the “dump,” it would seem to be a useful way to win over Republican and/or independent voters in the area.

    BTW, do you always have to be so scathing in your comments?  Is that your plan for winning friends and influencing voters?


    by: SmartyJones @ Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 14:35:40 PM CDT

    That’s exactly what I’m doing here (0.00 / 0)

    As for “help and work”, well, I vote for Democratic candidates even if I have to hold my nose to do it.  I only work for those I truly believe in.  There are only so many hours in the day, and things like a paid job take priority.

    I’m not accusing Dr. Shulman of anything, I simply want to know whether he agrees with Steny Hoyer, who appeared with him here in NJ on Monday, that the telecommunication companies deserve immunity from prosecution for participating in George W. Bush’s illegal spying.  

    I know that representatives from the campaign read this site, and since the one time I sent e-mail to the campaign via the candidate’s web site, I never received an answer, I thought I might get one on this issue here.


    by: brilliantatbreakfast @ Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 15:03:34 PM CDT

    [ Parent ]


    I forgot. YOU’RE the victims. (0.00 / 0)


    “BAB”:  It may be possible that Dr. Shulman has never thought about telecom immunity.  It may be that he thought the opportunity to get the race moved up the chain may have been more important than subjecting the Majority Leader to a litmus checklist (of course, if he winds up getting some more money then he may be able to have a few more people available to respond to inquiries such as yours).  I don’t know the answers to those questions and I doubt that you do either.  Maybe we should focus on electing a Congress that wouldn’t give a president a blank check to rummage around in our private lives and a President that won’t ask for it.

    “Smarty”:  I care about lots of things in lots of places.  The dump (pardon me, hazardous waste disposal site) may be a good issue and a chance to help some people.  Again, Dr. Shulman may not be aware of the issue.  But, there is a difference between presenting the issue as one where he may help himself by doing some good versus calling on him to put himself on the right side of your pet issue.

    Practical may be a dirty word to some, but “magic” has its limits in our mundane world.


    by: Creed Pogue @ Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 15:52:11 PM CDT

    Why so defensive? (4.00 / 3)

    Why are you getting on the defensive?  Do you work with Shulman’s campaign?  And do you know what Dr. Shulman’s stand on telecom immunity is (or whether he has one)?  If so, why not just spit it out?  All I asked was “What is his stand?”

    Your attitude puzzles me.   It puzzles me because there’s an attitude there of “Shut up and vote.”

    The issue is not whether I’ll vote for Dr. Shulman, of course I will.  The issue is trying to get information about the candidate’s stand on an issue that’s important to me.  

    You say in your latest screed that we should “focus on electing a Congress that wouldn’t give a president a blank check to rummage around in our private lives.”  I 100% agree.  But we do not have that Congress right now, and it’s not because of numbers, because we have a decisive majority in the House.  No, it’s because of sellouts like Steny Hoyer, who are either still afraid of President 24%, don’t care about the Constitution, or else are so wedded to telecom cash that said cash trumps all.

    I just want to know what I’m voting for.

    But when I see posts like yours that indicate I don’t have a right to know, that troubles me.  It’s a kind of “creeping Ferrieroism” that I refuse to adhere to.

    Oh, I’ll vote, but I want to know what I’m voting for when I do.  I want to know if Hoyer’s pound of flesh demanded for his appearance is going to be a reliable vote for putting the interests of telecom companies  ahead of the basic 4th Amendment rights of American citizens.  


    by: brilliantatbreakfast @ Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 04:44:08 AM CDT

    Not “defensive” at all (0.00 / 0)

    I live in Estell Manor in Atlantic County which is in the Second District.  So, I am about as far away from the Fifth District as you can get.

    I have not, do not and probably won’t wind up doing anything for Shulman’s campaign.  I have no idea about Dr. Shulman’s issue positions.

    Getting information on issues is important.  But, for the last time, re-read what you have written.  You are presenting his position (if he even has one) on telecom immunity as a litmus test.  If that is your intention, that is fine.  Stupid and short-sighted, but fine.

    You can work for (or not work for) whomever you want to.  You can vote for (or not vote for) whomever you want to.  But, if you now have a campaign that is nationally targeted and you stay out of it because of one secondary (at best) issue, then you lose the right to have anyone take seriously your complaints about Garrett in the future.

    Amazing how you try to turn this discussion into being about Ferriero!


    by: Creed Pogue @ Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 10:46:49 AM CDT

    [ Parent ]


    Who said anything about a litmus test? (0.00 / 0)

    What part of “I am voting for Dennis Shulman” don’t you understand?  Or are you just choosing to ignore what I’ve said?

    This is not a litmus test, but when a Congressional candidate sits next to, and takes money from, the very same House Majority Leader who just sold us, and the very U.S. Constitution out, to a megalomaniacal president with a 24% approval rating, I think it’s relevant to know whether said candidate plans to pay said House Majority Leader back by marching in lockstep with him.

    I’m going to be doing whatever I can to make sure that Steny Hoyer gets thrown out of Congress on his ear for betrayal of the rule of law and of the American people.  I just want to know if Shulman plans to be his BFF or if once he gets to Congress he’ll work to restore the 4th Amendment — the one Hoyer sold to the telecom companies, presumably for campaign cash

    Another Question (0.00 / 0)

    I read a different article about the EPA and the DEP’s  poor efforts to clean up toxic sites in NJ.  It included 2 north jersey towns.

    But it specifically excluded the Ringwood site, which after all these years is still a disaster.  What were these people smoking?

    A number of Ramapough Indians have sued Ford.  I tried to find out the status of the litigation, but found nothing current, so I assume the suit is still floating around the courts.

    So, Dr. Shulman, will you talk to the residents of Ringwood, especially the Ramapoughs, to determine the status of the toxic site, the status of the litigation and promise to do what you can to improve the situation?

    Oh yeah, Ringwood is in upper Passaic County and part of the 5th CD.

    by: brilliantatbreakfast @ Fri Jun 20, 2008 “

    End Of Your Comments on Shulman.

    Since you are always skeptical with every candidate who steps forward to challenge Scott Garrett, My question to you is, why didn’t you come foreward and challenge Scott, since you know all the answers of how to take down Scott.

    The other point is , I have a problem with your language of discrimination “Republicans-turned-Democrats” that sentence is not welcoming .

    I can go on and on posting all your comments about Dennis Shulman and Tod.

    I saw a similar comment on a different site different user name.

    Does the  comment below sounds familiar to you? Anyway I am an internet guru. I can find anything relating to internet.

    #Republican turned democrat”

    Submitted by broy on March 12, 2010 – 10

    “Just where did we hear that before ? The answer is blowing in the wind or was the answer in one of Treffingers no show jobs. What do we do with these spinless creeps who are still in our party, anyone?”

    WOW Just WOW

    My point is,if you have concerns about Theise, and if you care so much about what your party stands for, and its agenda, would’nt be nice to express your concerns, by picking up the phone or writing the candidate directly with the ideas that you think may take this party to victory than dicing every candidate that shows up every year, via your internet comments.

    If you wanted to run or you have somebody in mind, do not wait until somebody comes forward, then start trashing the person, it does not take us to victory starting a candidate with negativity, especially if you have an uphill battle. You Dems need to be united and speak one launguage. Come guys, If GOPs can rally behind a person like Sarah palin, who we all know she is a nut job, why can’t we do the same to few people who are stepping forward to Support our cause. This is so piceless.

    Your doubts about Theise’s candidancy because he switched parties is unacceptable. Tod left GOP years ago, he stayed independent for a long time. All his friends were Democrats. Ask West Orange Dems, they know Tod very well.

    I hope you check yourself before you judge others. I am dissappointed. You negativity contributed to Shulman’s down fall, just reading how you went after him.

    Shame shame

  6. Bill W

    …but I do have a request for any CD5 moderate Republicans who are considering joining the Democratic party and challenging Scott Garrett in the future:


    Run against him in the Republican primary instead.  

  7. Tod Theise

    I genuinely appreciate the kind words and well wishes here on BlueJersey.

    Please feel free to visit the temporary web site I’m putting together over the weekend.  It should provide an insight into who I am, what I stand for and why I’m running.


    I’m looking forward to posting here in the coming months.  I’ve been invited to appear on BlueJersey radio this Tuesday.  So you can hear me discuss things in greater detail than the Record article afforded (the interview was roughly 25 minutes, so what you read represented about 2% of our conversation).  


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