New Jersey House candidates decry race's heated rhetoric
Toms River, N.J. — Rep. Tom MacArthurThomas (Tom) Charles MacArthurChamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch Republican David Richter wins NJ primary in race to challenge Rep. Andy Kim What to watch in New Jersey's primaries on Tuesday MORE (R) and his Democratic opponent Andy Kim are accusing each other of spreading lies and inciting fear in an attempt to sway voters in the race to win New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District.
Polls show the candidates in a virtual dead heat in what has become a tense and expensive race, with both campaigns and outside groups heavily spending on negative ads. In the wake of accusations of racism and months of heated exchanges, both candidates have expressed frustration with the political animosity in the final stretch before Election Day.
“Democrats right now are all about spreading division and fear and anger,” MacArthur, who is fighting to serve a third term in the House, told a crowd of roughly 50 of his supporters during a campaign event Friday.
The New Jersey Republican cited his opponent’s attacks alleging he’s supportive of an age tax on Social Security and would cut Medicare, both of which he says are misleading and factually inaccurate.
"The Democrats are the worst I've ever seen — it's all about fear-mongering. Every piece of mail they send. I was with hundreds of seniors last night and they were all saying, 'Why are they sending so many? Like two and three a day just trying to make us afraid we're going to lose Social Security and lose Medicare' and I've never seen anything like it — the lies and millions behind the lies,” he told The Hill in an interview.
“I think it's really cynical and really rotten of them to upset people this much just, so they can gain power,” he added.
Kim, a former Obama national security adviser who is running for public office for the first time, has been painted as a far-left extremist by his opponent. He’s faced attacks alleging he embellished his resume and works as a “professional protester” whose main goal is to take down the Trump administration.
He dismissed those allegations, saying he’s spent his life working as a “career public servant” serving under both Republicans and Democrats.
“I'm not a partisan knife fighter, I'm not a professional politician. I'm just somebody who has been deeply worried about my home community,” he told The Hill during a campaign stop at a VFW in Roebling, N.J., on Saturday. “You know they’re continuing to just try to distract people with the lies to make me seem like someone that I'm not and scare the voters.”
Kim said he feels the level of discourse doesn’t serve the best interests of voters, arguing the attacks are a way to distract them from what matters.
"They [voters] want to be able to talk about the issues, and we wanted to make sure we stay on with health care and talk about my opponent's voting record and what we're trying to do,” Kim told The Hill.
“So, I feel like all the other issues are trying to be these distractions that take voters away from thinking about the key issues that are in their mind and trying to fill it with those attack and lies. And that's probably what's been most frustrating about this whole process for me.”
Despite the level of partisan mudslinging during the race, both candidates said they’re prepared to run through the tape on Election Day.
“I do feel good,” MacArthur said. “There's no slam dunks, but we're going to push right to the last minute.”