New Jersey’s Garrett hit over comments on gays

September 2, 2016

By Rachael Bade 

Between his votes supporting the Confederate flag and stand against gay Republican candidates for Congress, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) has more in common with rural Alabamans than the people of northern New Jersey. At least, that’s the main message of a new, $162,000 House Majority PAC ad that will air online Friday and hit TV stations in his district Tuesday.

In the new spot, dubbed “Dixie,” the group aligned with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hits Garrett for voting against a ban on Confederate flags at military cemeteries. It also reminds voters that Garrett last year refused to pay dues to the National Republican Campaign Committee because he believed the GOP election arm actively backed gay candidates, a controversy first reported by POLITICO. 

“His views are perfect for rural Alabama, so why is Scott Garrett representing New Jersey?” the voice-over asks. A fiddle plays a folksy tune in the background. “Scott Garrett’s views might sound fine in the Land of Cotton, but we’re not singing his tune in New Jersey.”

The PAC is also sponsoring an airplane banner targeting New Jersey beach-goers soaking up the sun this Labor Day weekend. The message will direct voters to a website featuring the ad, followed by a sign reading: “Rep. Scott Garrett — Move to Alabama.”

The TV spot is the second ad that House Majority PAC has aired in Garrett’s district, demonstrating that Democrats are serious about trying to unseat him. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in early August released an internal poll showing Garrett essentially tied with his Democratic challenger, former Federal Communications Commissions aide and public relations executive Josh Gottheimer, 44 percent to 42 percent. 

While Garrett’s office did not respond to request for comment, Republican operatives say Democrats are inflating their chances of success in a red-leaning district they’ve held since the early 1930s. 

Still, the makeup of New Jersey has changed, and Democrats are betting that Garrett’s comments about gays won’t play well in the East Coast district close to New York.

“More than a thousand miles and a hundred years separate Congressman Garrett’s views from the values of New Jersey voters,” said PAC spokesperson Jeb Fain in a statement. “Whether his outrageous defense of a symbol of racial hatred or his shameful discrimination against LGBT Americans, Garrett has proven he has no business representing the people of North Jersey.”