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Powerful new ad touts Andrzejczak military service

Democrat plays up loss of leg in Iraq in close Senate race

By Nikita Biryukov, October 25 2019 7:10 pm

State Sen. Bob Andrzejczak (D-Middle) launched a new ad Friday that features veterans defending the incumbent’s record in Trenton and touting his military service.

“Politician Mike Testa is lying about Bob Andrzejczak. Bob Volunteered for the Army, served 17 months in Iraq, earned the Bronze star, lost his leg fighting for us,” a series of veterans say in the ad. “Mike Testa, you never served a day. If you have a problem with Mike Andrzejczak freezing property taxes for seniors or criticizing Gov. Murphy for making us a sanctuary state, go ahead and attack that. But please, Mr. Testa, stop lying about Bob Andrzejczak’s record.”

Andrzejczak, a former Army sergeant, lost his left leg following an injury caused by a grenade while deployed in Iraq.

The senator frequently wears shorts in campaign media, and his prosthetic leg has featured prominently in mailers and advertisements the campaign has sent out so far.

“If you don’t know anything about Senator Andrzejczak, you probably know that he’s a veteran who was injured during his service to the country,” said Micah Rasmussen, director of Rider University’s Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics. “So, it reinforces a positive, and it also turns it into a negative on your opponent, who can be now construed as attacking that positive part of your record.”

The veterans’ testimonial on Andrzejczak’s behalf undercuts a line of attack frequently used by Cumberland County Republican Chairman Michael Testa’s campaign.

Testa has repeatedly sought to tie the incumbent to Gov. Phil Murphy, who, according to a Stockton poll released Thursday, is less popular in the first legislative district than President Donald Trump.

Last week, Testa was appointed as an honorary state chair of Trump’s New Jersey re-election campaign.

“This is sad. The issue has never been about Bob’s service in Iraq.  It’s about Bob Andrzejczak’s failure in Trenton, where he’s voted with Governor Phil Murphy’s radical liberal agenda 95% of the time,” Testa said. “Andrzejczak slashed millions in funding for local schools, voted to spend millions on free college for illegal immigrants, and has done nothing to help Cape May County Sheriff Bob Nolan in his fight against Murphy’s Sanctuary State directive.”

Though Testa’s campaign declined to provide an exact spending figure for the spot, they said it would run six figures. That the ad will run on Philadelphia broadcast networks.

It’ll likely be on the air through the election, though that may change pending any last-minute changes in the race.

It’s also possible voters will infer from the ad that Testa has attacked Andrzejczak’s service record, Rasmussen said.

“This is a number of veterans defending a veteran, and they are defending him in an emotional way,” he said. “I will go so far as to say that when some viewers watch this, they will draw the inference that this has something to do with his status as a veteran, something to do with his service.”

To be clear, Testa has not questioned Andrzejczak’s service record, but the veterans in the ad list details about Andrzejczak’s service record immediately following their calling Testa a liar.

Later in the 30-second spot, they tell Testa to stop lying about “Andrzejczak’s record.” They’re referring to his record in the legislature, but the distinction may be completely clear to all viewers.

The veterans selected for the ad also play to the district. They’re elderly or middle aged, and most are white. Put simply, they look a lot like the first legislative district.

“We call it a working-class district, and these are working class veterans,” Rasmussen said. “These are people who came home and got a blue-collar job. This looks like the district, and I grew up in that district.”

The ad, Rasmussen said, will likely move voters.

“Bob has one leg, but he’s done more to stand up for South Jersey than you ever will,” one of the veterans says.

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