The New Jersey Democratic State Committee today pushed back on Republican criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi headlining their state party conference in Atlantic City next month.
“Nancy Pelosi is the highest ranking elected Democrat in the country and a true powerhouse who has stood firm in the face of constant Republican attempts to unfairly demonize and caricature her for years,” said Kevin Olasanoye, new Executive Director of the state party. “That failed strategy didn’t help the Republicans last year when they lost all but one of New Jersey’s seats in the House of Representatives, and it won’t help them this year either.”
Last year, a Republican super PAC with ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan ran TV ads calling Democratic congressional candidate Andy Kim a “Pelosi liberal” and ran anti-Pelosi ads against Tom Malinowski. Republican Jay Webber used a clip of Mikie Sherrill praising Pelosi in his own ads, and Seth Grossman sought to link Jeff Van Drew to Pelosi numerous times.
All four Democrats flipped Republican House seats, although just Kim and Malinowski voted to elect Pelosi Speaker.
Condemnation of a Speaker of the House by the party in opposition is nothing new.
In 1995, Speaker Newt Gingrich raised over $700,000 for New Jersey Republicans defending their 53-27 majority in the State Assembly.
Rep. Bob Torricelli (D-Englewood), who was seeking a U.S. Senate seat in 1996, used Gingrich’s appearance to bash his likely GOP opponent, Rep. Dick Zimmer (R-Delaware).
“Dick Zimmer is the first candidate in New Jersey who represent the radical right policy of Newt Gingrich,” Torricelli told the Associated Press. “People know what Gingrich is.”
In the Middlesex-based 19th district, Democrats slammed Assemblymen Steve Mikulak (R-Woodbridge) and Ernie Oros (R-Woodbridge) over Gingrich’s proposal to cut Medicare funding to New Jersey and for taking campaign contributions from a political action committee tied to the House Speaker.
Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman defended the GOP legislators, saying that Gingrich has no sway over state government issues.
“Attracting Speaker Pelosi to the NJDSC Conference is something all New Jersey Democrats can be proud of and this achievement is a testament to the leadership of Governor Murphy, Chairman Currie, Vice Chair Schaffer and our team,” Olasanoye said. “Seeing leaders of a party that chooses to support Donald Trump of all people try to lecture Democrats on who we should associate with is truly comical.”