Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pascrell in the 9th

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pascrell in the 9th

Article excerpt

THE RACE to represent the people of the new 9th District began in 2011 and has been filled with surprises. After congressional lines were redrawn late last year, Rep. Steven Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, found himself living in the new 5th District.

Rothman moved back to Englewood, where he once was mayor, to take on Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of Paterson, who for 16 years has represented the old 8th District. Pascrell's victory in the hard- fought June primary helped to sharpen his focus as a working-class advocate, not inclined to back down from any challenge but also willing to reach out to new constituents. That energized Pascrell now faces a well-known media personality, author and rabbi: Shmuley Boteach of Englewood.

The charismatic rabbi running as a Republican is no garden- variety politician. Going into this election cycle, many perhaps did not see Boteach's candidacy as a serious proposition. His national reputation was not built on the nuts and bolts of crafting legislation. Still, he has proved a worthy opponent for Pascrell. The rabbi has campaigned vigorously and has cited a need for Republicans to move past divisive social questions -- such as marriage equality and reproductive choices - and to focus more on the economy and foreign policy.

Noting that, Pascrell still remains the more qualified, skilled and effective legislative choice for the people of the new 9th District, which contains a large swath of residents in Passaic, Bergen and Hudson counties who have been hit hard during the recession and who are struggling to find and keep jobs.

During the bitter primary fight, Rothman tried to characterize Pascrell as not a true Democrat because he was all too willing to work with Republicans. Congress needs more such Democrats - and Republicans as well - willing to look for points of compromise when possible and willing to fight for principles that are not debatable.

Boteach, too, has said he would be willing to work across the aisle. With his self-described "values-based campaign," he has chided those in his own party for failing to make hard choices or to address the meat-and-potatoes issues that affect most Americans, like bringing jobs back to small businesses and providing a sensible health care plan that is an alternative to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. …

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