By Jane Roh
Republican congressional candidate Jon Runyan today delivered a harsh rebuke to U.S. Rep. John Adler, D-N.J., over what the former NFL offensive lineman called "unethical" and possibly illegal campaign tactics.
"My opponent, John Adler, represents everything that is wrong with politics in this country today. He is dishonest. He lacks principle," Runyan told reporters at a hastily assembled afternoon press conference at his campaign headquarters.
"I would ask for an apology, but frankly, an apology from someone like Congressman Adler would be so meaningless that it's not worth seeking."
Runyan was responding to a Courier-Post article today in which political operatives close to the Adler campaign and the Camden County Democratic Committee admitted those entities collaborated to get a Tea Party candidate, Peter DeStefano, on the ballot.
Whether DeStefano actually believes in Tea Party principles or is an unknowing player in Democratic machinations is unknown. He has refused repeated interview requests from the Courier-Post.
The Adler campaign and the CCDC have also not responded to multiple requests for comment this week.
"The goal was to take 5 percent of (Republican Jon) Runyan's vote," one South Jersey Democrat told the Courier-Post, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Steve Ayscue designed the plan with Geoff Mackler following his lead."
Ayscue is a paid CCDC consultant and high-profile South Jersey Democratic operative. Mackler, a Washington, D.C., resident formerly with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is Adler's campaign manager.
In August, Adler told the Courier-Post, "I know we weren't part of it. Whatever they did -- I know what I do, and I hold my head high about what I do."
The Runyan campaign said revelations about Adler's involvement cast a dark shadow over the longtime Cherry Hill politician's character.
"I want to go to Congress and serve the people of this district and make a difference in my community and in my country," said Runyan, who was recruited by Burlington County Republicans for the 3rd congressional district race and is new to politics.
"However, win or lose, I want to go home to my wife and three kids at night and be able to look them in the eye and have them be proud of who I am and how I conduct myself."
DeStefano's campaign announced via Facebook he is holding a fundraiser at 6:30 tonight in Medford, at the Indian Chief Tavern. The price of admission is $50.
Area Tea Party groups announced today they will hold an anti-DeStefano protest outside.