The Republican candidate for mayor of Monroe says his Facebook page was hacked and that he isn’t responsible for a number of posts potentially offensive posts, including one that uses images of a swastika.
“They’re fake posts,” said the candidate, Steve Martin. “Someone’s hacking us.”
One Martin Facebook post, which disappeared after the New Jersey Globe asked about it compared FBI Director Robert Mueller to Heinrich Müller, the director of the Gestapo.
The controversial posts aren’t limited to Martin. One from the Monroe Township Republicans compared Dr. Josef Mengele with the Democratic governor of Virginia, Dr. Ralph Northam.
But Martin maintains he’s not familiar with any of those individuals.
“Who’s Mengele?” Martin asked. “I didn’t know any of these people at all. It’s not even one I knew from my Jewish Studies class at college.
Another post had a photo of a train being loaded with Jews headed to Nazi death camps.
“Why gun control?” Martin’s meme asked. “Because armed people will NOT willingly load themselves into railroad boxcars.
Running in a town with a significant Jewish population, Martin pushed back on the possibility that his comments might offend some of his constituents.
“Half of our team is married to Jewish people,” he said.
The GOP mayoral candidate also appears to focus social media attention on Vice President Kamala Harris.
Earlier this year, Martin posted a photo of former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Harris that called her a “high-end call girl.” When someone commented that this was never brought up in the campaign, Martin said it was because “the Dems own the media.”
He also reported a meme last year that included a photo of Harris with the text, “I have Indian Blood in me,” beside a photo of a cat with the caption, “Imahoe isn’t a tribe.”
In October 2020, Martin reposted a meme that read, “Rose’s are red, Kamala’s not black, Joe’s in the basement and Hunter’s on crack.
“Now this is funny,” Martin added.
Last week, Martin posted that he “Just wanted everyone to know that whoever has been in contact with me in any way over the last 14 days should stay indoors and contact your nearest test center. I’m so sorry to everyone of my friends and family and those who have been in close proximity to me.”
“I have had symptoms for a few days now and it has just been confirmed. I have been diagnosed with being extremely sexy, good-looking, hilarious and completely nuts. I’m told there is no cure as of yet for all 4 together,” he wrote. “When I see this reposted, I’ll know who has read this to the end.. I know a few that won’t let me down.”
Despite hundreds of Facebook posts, Martin maintains that he doesn’t use social media.
“I’m really not even on Facebook,” he said. “No one’s supposed to be on Facebook. We took an oath not to be on it.”
One GOP council candidate, Peter Tufano, said his account was hacked too.
He posted a meme that asked, “What good is having a page of the comments get turned off! Is this Nazi Germany?”
“What’s offensive about that,” Tufano said when read his own post.
Last year, another Middlesex County candidate faceda controversy over Facebook posts.
South Plainfield Democratic council candidate Steve Remming was caught making inflammatory comments on Facebook – including one suggesting he would celebrate if Bernie Sanders’ supporters committed suicide – it took Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe just minutes to tell his candidate to drop out of the race.
By the next morning, Remming was gone.
New swing town
Martin faces interim Mayor Stephen Dalina for a two-year unexpired term to replace Gerald Tamburro, who died on December 31 of last year at age 84.
Monroe is a rarity in New Jersey — perhaps the only large municipality in the state to trend from solidly blue to purple-emerging. The township saw a spike in population over the last decade, up 24% to 48,594. Monroe swung Democratic as a result of a massive influx of senior citizens who began moving to the township in the late 1970s. Now the township is seeing an increase in Republicans-leaning voters, many emigrating from Staten Island.
Democrats have controlled Monroe Township in Middlesex County since 1987 when Republican Peter Garibaldi lost two elections on the same day.
Garibaldi lost his bid for a fourth term as mayor when Richard Pucci beat him with 72% of the vote. He also lost his State Senate seat, ousted after four years when Tom Paterniti, an assemblyman and former Edison mayor, beat him by eighteen points.
Monroe once delivered massive pluralities to Democratic candidates, but the margins have shrunk in recent years.
* U.S. Senator Bob Menendez won by 545 votes in 2018 after winning by 3,349 in 2006.
* Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) carried the township last year by 1,871 votes; Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell) won it in 2006 by 5,579.
* Gov. Phil Murphy’s margin in 2017 was 84 votes; Gov. Jon Corzine’s margin in 2005 was 2,917.
* State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) had a plurality of 1,263 in 2017; as an Assembly candidate in 2005, Greenstein won Monroe by 3,767 votes.
* Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in Monroe by 1,191 votes in 2016; John Kerry’s margin in 2004 against George W. Bush was 2,557. But last year, Biden won Monroe by 2,752.