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Cho Fundraiser Brings Out Jersey’s Big Guns

Ridgewood – On October 14, State Senator Loretta Weinberg hosted a fall fundraising dinner for Roy Cho, the congressional candidate running against Scott Garrett in the Fifth Congressional District. More than 300 people packed the Women’s Club to listen to a roster of legislators that included Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Rep. Frank Pallone, State Senator Bob Gordon, and other.

In attendance were Assemblymen Gordon Johnson, Tim Eustace and Joe Lagana, Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur, Mayor Jeff Goldsmith of Woodcliff Lake, and former Captain of the NY Giants, Harry Carson. The featured speaker was former Sen. Bill Bradley. Sen. Cory Booker, busy running his own campaign, was enthusiastically represented by his brother Harry Booker.

Sen. Weinberg said she is a strong supporter of the 33-year-old attorney from Hackensack. (Garrett’s home is in Stanhope, 40 miles from Teaneck.) With degrees from Brown University and George Washington University Law School, Weinberg drew attention to Cho’s intelligence and his grasp of the issues. She said the energy he put into building his campaign in the last year and his focus on working together with everyone to solve our country’s and district’s problems, convinces her that he will be a strong champion of all of his constituents. Recalling her own long history of efforts to make a difference, and the incumbent Garrett’s negative voting record on women’s issues, she said she did not want to return to the obstacles faced by women in the 1950s.

Harry Booker, originally from Harrington Park, and the Jr. Senator’s younger brother, praised Cho’s “evident hard-working attitude, which will help him do the hard work needed in Washington, just like Cory is doing.” Conveying Cory’s endorsement and his own admiration of Cho, he concluded with “the Bookers support Roy.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell, of the neighboring 7th District, and former Mayor of Paterson, energized the crowd by asking “Are we ready to rumble?” Quoting his very tall colleague, Bill Bradley, he said “Watch the guy with the ball.” Bradley meant you could measure a player’s contribution to his team by how often he personally engaged in the battle. Pascrell then talked about votes on some key issues. Pointing to the threat of Ebola, he cited Garrett having voted to reduce funding to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). Concerning Superstorm Sandy relief, Garrett was the last and only reluctant member of the New Jersey delegation to join the appeal for Congressional funding.

Turning to the state’s transportation crisis, Pascrell noted that Garrett opposed federal funding of highway construction, leaving it to the overburdened states to raise funds themselves. Pascrell called Garrett’s campaign claims “real fiction. Pascrell, called by Bradley “a fighter for the little man,” said that Cho would not be afraid to be an independent voice in the House. He would tell it straight, and fight to get things done.”

In introducing Sen. Menendez, Sen. Weinberg said, “He is a hero to the Jewish community” for being a staunch supporter of Israel and a powerful ally in addressing issues of common interest.

Sen. Menendez, who said Pascrell was a hard act to follow, declared, “We will defeat the Tea Party candidate and send shockwaves through the country.” He too said that Garrett’s campaign was based on many lies about his own voting record. Menendez said, “to govern effectively, you must govern from the center. Negotiate what would be good for most people, not obstruct every constructive idea.”

He pointed out that “extremists like Garrett in the House’s Tea Party minority in Congress, rule the whole Republican Party. We cannot let a minority rule this country.”

He described how, when other officials asked Garrett to support aid to constituents devastated by Hurricane Sandy, his response was, “Let me think about it.” Menendez pointed out that Garrett voted against a violence against women bill; against a woman’s right to choose in the cases of rape and incest; against funds to help veterans get jobs, and against funding adequate staffing of local police on the streets. He voted for both government shutdowns and for off-shore drilling along the Jersey shore. Menendez said that Garrett was often the sole NJ representative to vote the way he did, and often one of only a handful in the House. He concluded with “Roy is not Garrett. He will work to provide opportunities for all people in the 5th CD.”

After Sen. Weinberg thanked Bill Bradley for making a rare campaign appearance on behalf of Roy Cho, Bradley said, “Loretta shows what one tenacious person can do in government.” He praised Menendez who, while holding one of the most powerful chairs in the Senate (Foreign Affairs), hasn’t forgotten New Jersey.” He proclaimed to Garrett “Don’t get too attached to your job, Roy is on his way.”

Bradley talked about how he and Cho had a long conversation in his office and it “made his heart and mind converge on supporting Roy.” Bradley referred to the time, a decade and a-half ago, when he left the Senate saying, “politics is broken.” He said that since then, “it has only gotten worse. We need Roy in Congress. We need his values, education, commitment, and vision. He is someone who understands women, minorities, education, healthcare, and transportation.” Saying “this race is winnable,” he challenged those assembled by asking, “What are you going to do?”

Candidate Roy Cho thanked his many supporters in his one-and-a-half year campaign. He praised Pascrell, grandson of Italian immigrants, and Menendez, son of Cuban immigrants, for showing that “there is a role for government.” As the son of South Korean immigrants, he plans to follow their lead. He said many of his friends are disenchanted with government. “Truman’s 1948 ‘do-nothing Congress’ passed 900 bills. In the current session they have passed only 100.”

Cho pointed to Garrett’s hypocrisy on many issues. He attended an NAACP dinner, though had been given only a 21% favorable rating by that organization and he was one of the few who voted against the Voting Rights Act. He is running ads claiming to support women’s rights, but voted against funding women’s healthcare through NIH (National Institutes of Health) funding. After Sandy, we needed government. Garrett was against that. In Cho’s door-to-door campaign, he and the mayor of Westwood were thanked by a disabled veteran for asking what they could do for him. Garrett voted against funding for the VA (Veterans Administration). We need to develop new energy resources to create more jobs, and to become more independent of the oil countries. Garrett opposes such development. Such blatant misrepresentation “turns people off from running for office, or even voting, and from pursuing the American Dream.”

“This country was founded by underdogs.” They were farmers and intellectuals who weren’t expected to beat the greatest empire on Earth. If we work hard, we can accomplish a lot. Government is best when we work together. Workers and the middle class must be strong. We need public/private partnerships. We shouldn’t punish people for being successful, but rather bring them into the process of solving our problems.” Cho’s campaign has garnered the support of many political luminaries and has raised almost $! mil. Running perhaps the most competitive race ever against Garrett, Cho predicted “We’ll pull off one of the biggest upsets in the country.”

JLBC asked many of the supporters present why they support Roy Cho. Mel Solomon, of River Edge, said, “Garrett has been a disaster. He has done nothing but oppose Obama. He is against any government and just wants Obama to fail. He has offered no solutions to problems in healthcare, education, or the economy.”

Laura Zucker of Teaneck said, “He is a young visionary. He has solid plans for increasing employment, improving infrastructure, and lessening the burden of student loans. During the war with Gaza, Cho travelled to Israeli border towns to investigate first-hand and to learn about the situation in depth. That’s how he deals with all issues.”

Bonnie Chalek, of Ridgewood, echoed this observation, saying, “My mother wouldn’t let me visit my brother, who lives in the West Bank, during the war.”

Norman Levin, of Teaneck, said, “As a son of immigrants, Roy understands the Jewish experience. He is sympathetic and sincere in his support for Israel, the environment, and women’s rights.”

Judith Green, of Teaneck, said “He is a feminist and pro-choice. He supports having a living wage for everyone, guarding Social Security and Medicare, and improving the environment.”

Art Vasky, of Teaneck, said “Scott Garrett’s values have thrown the 5th CD under the bus. He operates opposite to the culture of his constituents. When residents of the Jersey shore were suffering, Garrett walked away. In comparison, Roy welcomes diversity, supports women’s rights, and offers us intelligence. He believes what he says and he is an idealist, who believes hard work can get great results. His life story testifies to his drive and tenacity.”

State Sen. Bob Gordon said, “Scott Garrett doesn’t even represent the values of Bergen County Republicans. He doesn’t work on behalf of our interests. The job of a congressman is to fight for resources for his people. Garrett doesn’t do that at all. He is a cutting-edge 17th century thinker.”

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson said, “Roy is a bright young man who will bring needed change. He is a man of good character, and not a hypocrite. His vision is in line with the new 5th Congressional District and all of Bergen County.”

Janice Levin, of Teaneck, summed it all up by saying, “He’s not Garrett.”

By Stephen Tencer

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