Republican State Senate candidate Seth Grossman launched a new attack against county-backed rival Vince Polistina, charging he would be unable to stand up to Trenton Democrats because of public contracts held by his engineering firm.
“Polistina said that for years, his ‘excellent working relationship’ with state agencies and authorities now run by ‘woke’ Democrat Governor Phil Murphy got grants for his clients,” Grossman said in an email to supporters late Monday. “This would end immediately if Polistina agressively and effectively pushed back against any of Murphy’s ‘woke’ Democrat agenda.”
The two are locked in a tight contest for the Republican nomination to take on Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield) for retiring State Sen. Chris Brown’s (R-Ventnor City) seat in the upper chamber.
The former assemblyman’s firm, Polistina & Associates, holds public contracts in several Atlantic County municipalities. He’s the municipal engineer in Folsom and Linwood, and his firm holds contracts with Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township and the Egg Harbor Township Municipal Utilities Authority.
His firm also has contracts in Cape May City, Galloway and Hamilton Township. In some cases, members of Polistina’s engineering company hold local positions, while he holds them in others.
Polistina’s campaign said Grossman should focus on his own weaknesses.
“If Seth is worried about Republicans nominating a candidate having significant vulnerabilities, I strongly suggest he look in the mirror,” Polistina campaign manager Joe Berg said. “Vince’s track record as a self-made, successful small business owner is a strength, not a weakness.”
Grossman ran for Congress in 2018, but some Republican party leaders dropped support for his campaign shortly after his surprise primary win after it was revealed he shared a post from a white supremacist website, said diversity was un-American and called Kwanza a fake holiday.
He ran that race as a fervently pro-Trump Republican and has adopted a similar posture in this year’s contest.
The attacks over public contracts are reminiscent of ones launched by Democrats during Polistina’s 2011 State Senate bid against then-State Sen. Jim Whelan. Both sides then traded jabs over such contracts, each accusing the other of getting rich off taxpayer dollars.
The race was the most expensive contest of the year, and it ended with Polistina, who eschewed re-election to the Assembly in favor of a bid for a position in the upper chamber, without a seat in the legislature.
The former assemblyman is making his bid for State Senate on the Atlantic County Republican line along with Assembly candidates Claire Swift, a former deputy attorney general, and Don Guardian, a former Atlantic City mayor.
Grossman, whose name will in ballot Siberia, columns away from that of Polistina and GOP candidates running on organizational lines, is making his bid off-the-line, though he insisted Tuesday that he wasn’t seeking to oppose the district’s Republican Assembly candidates.
“I am NOT running against the ‘Column A Team.’ Just Vince Polistina,” he said in the email. “If I win on June 8, I will be part of the new and stronger Republican Team that YOU, the voter, select — from Governor to City Council or Township Committee.”