By Jonathan Salant
WASHINGTON — A group affiliated with House Democrats began an $80,000 ad campaign Tuesday against Rep. Scott Garrett that keys in on his controversial stance on gay candidates.
The ads are running on cable television and highlight Garrett's reported comments that he would not support the House Republicans' fundraising arm because it backed gay candidates. Garrett has said that he was referring to candidates' positions on the Republican Party platform, which opposes same-sex marriage, not their personal sexual orientations.
Garrett is considered the most vulnerable House incumbent from New Jersey in this year's elections.
"Scott Garrett: He's bad for business and wrong for New Jersey," the narrator said.
The ads are being funded by the House Majority PAC, a super political action committee that can take in unlimited donations from unions, corporations and individuals. This is the first general-election ad that the group is running.
The race between Rep. Scott Garrett and Democrat Josh Gottheimer should be New Jersey's biggest 2016 donnybrook.
"With his blatant bigotry, Congressman Garrett has embarrassed not just himself, but also New Jersey," PAC spokesman Jeb Fain said.
Garrett campaign manager Sarah Neibart said that Democrats always target the incumbent and always fall short.
"That's because people in New Jersey aren't fooled by attack ads and lies funded by Washington special interests," Neibart said. "His Democratic challenger is a political insider using Washington resources — like the most prominent Democrat super PAC — to buy a seat in Congress. Scott Garrett has always fought against Washington's bloated government, so it's no wonder that special interests are once again using their top resources to attack him."
Garrett, who easily won his June 7 primary against two challengers, faces former White House speechwriter Josh Gottheimer in what is shaping up to be one of the most expensive House races nationally.
Through May 18, Garrett reported a bank account balance of $2.6 million. Gottheimer had $2 million.
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, cited Garrett's comments when he told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Monday: "Josh Gottheimer beats Scott Garrett on Election Night."
The DCCC last month began running online ads in 15 congressional districts, including Garrett's, tying House Republicans to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The commercials highlighted Trump's opposition to abortion, his description of immigrants coming fromm Mexico as "rapists," and his call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.
From The Star-Ledger on June 14, 2016.