Roy Cho is calling Rep. Scott Garrett out for skittishly avoiding as many debates with him as Garrett could get away with. Garrett’s agreed to only one – – on the radio, on a Friday morning at a station whose broadcast signal doesn’t even reach into most of Bergen County where most of his constituents live. In three days, Cho will be showing up at a Ridgewood candidate forum Garrett declined to attend. Cho, who is having the best week of any candidate in the state, is only tot happy to report that his opponent will be represented there by “an empty chair.”
Bad timing for Garrett. Anybody paying attention is already laughing at Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s weird debate performance Wednesday, refusing for 7 minutes of live TV to show up to the stage and debate Dem Charlie Crist, and leaving the audience staring and chuckling uncomfortably at Scott’s empty podium.
It’s Garrett’s own fault that as seated congressman he leaves himself vulnerable to criticism like this from the surging (and newly national news topic) Cho:
“Scott Garrett has the audacity to demand from his constituents that they come to him at his convenience and under his rules. It’s typical of a politician who time and again puts his own Tea Party interests before the needs of North Jersey residents, such as failing to support aid until the last minute in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Instead of standing by his extremist record now that the nation’s eyes are on him, Garrett’s giving his constituents the cold shoulder.”
And it’s not just Cho saying that. Yesterday’s Ledger sharply criticized NJ incumbents – also justifiably including Sen. Cory Booker – for trying to “run out the clock until Nov. 4.” Big photo at the top of the story? Garrett.
Instead of a vigorous debate schedule, Garrett’s taking a page from Gov. Christie’s history of thinly-veiled political events passed off as “town halls.” Garrett’s doing “telephone town halls” Cho says are “scripted,” offer the opportunity to contribute or volunteer to Garrett, and are managed by screeners who make sure only question Garrett wants get on.
Who’s working harder for the vote in CD5? Who’s not afraid to get out in front of voters and take whatever questions come up? And who expected to skate to easy victory before this week’s poll news changed the game?