As already noted (and broken, I might add) by Blue Jersey, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has endorsed Dennis Shulman’s Congressional run in NJ’s fifth district in a press conference earlier this morning. This is obviously huge news for a race that initially wasn’t even supposed to be on anybody’s radar but through Shulman’s campaign as well as people of the District waking up to the extreme ideology of Scott Garrett (someone who even Jon Cornyn’s campaign manager called a “nut”), has gotten the exposure that it sorely needs to send one of Congress’ most odious members home for good.
Bloomberg made a brief opening statement and took questions for approximately 20 minutes – most of the salient points from the Q/A session are below – before turning the press conference over to Dennis, who made a statement and then took questions for another 20 minutes.
In his opening statement Mayor Bloomberg indicated that he was impressed by Dennis’ pragmatic sensible approach to tough issues, including the economy and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. In endorsing Shulman, Bloomberg indicated that Congress needed more members to focus on reaching across the aisle for problem solving and not ideology, an obvious point aimed at incumbent Garrett’s rigid and narrow ideological view – something that was touched on throughout the press conference.
In talking about Shulman’s background, Bloomberg urged district to vote for Dennis.
The following is excerpted from Shulman’s statement thanking Bloomberg for his support:
I am so honored to have this endorsement. [Mayor Bloomberg’s] record of accomplishments as businessman, civic leader and elected official has been an inspiration in my run for office. I have long admired Mayor Bloomberg’s steady leadership in NYC. He sees problems as solvable and not an opportunity to apply extreme ideology. This is what the voters of NJ’s fifth district need. For too long we have had a Representative that has failed us on the economy. For too long, our Representative has pursued a rigid narrow approach to economic issues we face in NJ and the nation. We don’t need more erratic decision makers. We need more independence as the Mayor has demonstrated repeated. We need a Representative that shares the Mayor’s flexibility and problem solving approach. Mayor Bloomberg is not a career politician but ha a common sense pragmatic approach to government. I will apply the Mayor’s problem solving perspective to the challenges we face as a nation.
The press conference had participation from a number of NY and NJ based papers, and some of the questions are below. Bloomberg indicated that he did not foresee contributing any money to this race and would probably not be making many (if any) additional endorsements this campaign season; however he would absolutely let the Shulman campaign use his endorsement and statement in an advertisement. Shulman pointed out that while they didn’t know how they would use the endorsement yet, it is wonderful that he decided to cross the aisle and the Hudson and we will make sure people know about the endorsement.
A big issue for the Mayor was that of gun violence and Bloomberg mentioned this in response to questions from The Bergen Record’s Herb Jackson as well as the New York Daily News, referencing the work that Newark Mayor Cory Booker has done to try and tackle this issue:
Herb Jackson : How much of this endorsement has to do with Garrett’s record with respect to the NRA?
Mayor Bloomberg [A very] big issue is to protect police officers and make sure children don’t get shot by random bullets. Congress’ protection of criminals with guns is “disgraceful”, especially on gun show loopholes and how Congress walked away from rule on dealer losing license that now allows sales of guns on the streets to anyone. There is no longer a ban on assault rifles. Dennis will stand up to change these things and his opponent “for reasons I can not fathom” will not. How can you not stand up to criminals?
Dennis was also asked about guns by the Ledger in light of the fact that this has not been a major campaign issue to date. Dennis responded with a story about his experiences as a psychologist who treated parents of children killed by handguns:
Shulman: One of the positions where Garrett is way over the line is his being against child safety locks. As a psychologist, I treated a number of parents whose kids died from playing in neighbor’s home with a gun that had no lock. No matter how you feel about the other issues related to gun control (and I am not interested in taking licensed guns from hunters who aren’t criminals), child safety locks is an ethical issue. There is no reason we can’t support a bill that has child safety locks and I will address this when I get to Congress.
So why would people in this District, especially those who don’t live in Bergen County, care about this endorsement? That very question was asked by the NJ Herald, a Sussex County paper. Dennis responded by talking about his background as a problem solver, as well as Mayor Bloomberg’s background as a problem solver – things that are not being applied in the current Congress, especially by the current Representative:
Shulman: People throughout the district are interested in endorsement because Mayor Bloomberg represents someone who is a problem solver. Garrett is committed to ideology not problem solving. He votes with a rigid and narrow ideology. [Former District Representative] Marge Roukema referred to him as a “right wing extremist”. Bloomberg is not endorsing many congressional candidates, and he represents the opposite of Garrett – a problem solver, one who proposes solutions and doesn’t look into a playbook in order to figure out what to say. That is what our country needs and that is what I also represent.
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