RAHWAY – A mailing from one Democratic mayoral candidate falsely claims an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, while a newspaper ad replicating an email message sent to another primary election contender was published without the lawmaker’s authorization.
Democratic mayoral candidate James J. Devine said his campaign skirted protocol by by redistributing an email message that Menendez sent him last week, as a newspaper ad encouraging citizens to register opposition to a GOP plan to privatize Medicare.
“I was excited by Sen. Bob Menendez’s alert about the latest Republican effort to privatize Medicare and we used a graphic presentation that might have inaccurately implied his support for me rather than my support for his heroic battle to protect Medicare,” said Devine, “The Senator has not embroiled himself in Rahway’s primary election and I respect his decision to stay out of it and leave that matter to the local citizens.”
“Sen. Menendez has not endorsed anyone,” said his spokesperson, Paul Brubaker, in response to a mailing sent out by Hillside Township administrator Samson Steinman, the establishment-backed candidate in the race for mayor of Rahway.
Devine said he conceded to using poor judgment when Brubaker told him he should have sought permission before replicating the email message, but he claimed Steinman lied when he claimed the Menendez endorsed him when, in fact, he did not.
“It is unfortunate that Bob Menendez was drawn into this Democratic primary fray without his consent, and I have extended my apology for any inconvenience,” said Devine. “I am not able to address whether Mr. Steinman made an expression of regret for having falsely claimed his endorsement.”
Attempts to reach Steiman were unsuccessful, but Brubaker’s remarks made it clear that the interim mayor falsely claimed an endorsement to which he is not entitled.
Devine has worked in various situations with Menendez since 1987, when he was press secretary for the Hudson County Democrat’s campaign to represent the state’s 33rd district in New Jersey General Assembly.
In 1992, when Menendez replaced Congressman Frank Guarini, who decided to retire after redistricting, Devine was political director at the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
The newspaper ad alerting residents about the latest Republican effort to privatize Medicare, Devine featured a picture of the Rahway mayoral candidate with Menendez taken at the 2006 unveiling of a solar energy facility in the city.
“It is one thing to create an impression that can be misinterpreted and something else to fabricate an endorsement that does not exist,” said Kevin Brister, a Democratic activist in Rahway. “The nasty character attacks and false claims signify desperation from the Steinman campaign.”
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