By Jonathan Salant
WASHINGTON — Visitors to the Jersey Shore this weekend will see an airplane banner attacking Rep. Scott Garrett for his comments on gay candidates. Others will see billboards along Route 17 and still others will continue to see ads on cable television attacking the Republican lawmaker.
The effort is being funded by the House Majority PAC, a super political action committee supporting House Democrats that began the campaign with an $80,000 ad buy in mid-June. The cost of the ad campaign is up to $320,000.
"From land, sea, and sky, House Majority PAC is making sure as many voters as possible learn the facts about Congressman Garrett's hateful agenda," said the PAC's spokesman, Jeb Fain. "Scott Garrett's bigoted views have no place in Congress, and they won't fly with North Jersey voters this November."
Garrett campaign manager Sarah Neibart attributed the attacks to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who would become speaker if her party wins control of the chamber in November.
"Nancy Pelosi's political hacks are spreading lies on lies in a mud-slinging attempt to paint Scott Garrett as something that he's simply not," Neibart said.
The airplane banner, billboards, cable TV ads and accompanying website all 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.
The airplane banner will be flown over the Jersey Shore with the slogan, "Scott Garrett: Anti-Gay Bigotry Won't Fly." The three billboards on the east side of Route 17 in Carlstadt and Mahwah will call Garrett an "anti-gay congressman." Both will highlight the new anti-Garrett website.
Garrett (R-5th Dist.) is considered New Jersey's only vulnerable House GOP incumbent in and his Democratic opponent, former White House speechwriter Josh Gottheimer, already has banked $2 million. Garrett has $2.6 million to spend in what is shaping up to be one of the most expensive U.S. House races.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted Garrett for defeat. In May, the group began running online ads in 15 congressional districts, including Garrett's, trying to tie House Republicans to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Garrett has said that his opposition to gay marriage stems from his beliefs as a "devout man of faith." He and Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.) are co-sponsors of legislation to allow groups and individuals to cite their religious beliefs and deny service to same-sex couples.
Several financial organizations have cut off political action committee contributions to him as a result of his positions on gay rights.
Garrett easily won his June 7 primary against two challengers.
From Newark Star-Ledger on June 30, 2016.