Republican congressional candidate Hirsh Singh is attracting a new round of criticism from both parties after making disparaging comments about South Jersey farmers to a weekly newspaper in Cape May County.
Singh told the Ocean City Sentinel: “There’s a lot of industry down here that relies upon a certain part of the population that’s not here legally, like the farmers and otherwise.”
“For nearly 40 years I worked with farmers across South Jersey, all were patriotic, law abiding and hard working. As a freeholder I served with a farmer,” said former Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi, one of the candidates for the Republican nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd district. “For Hirsh Singh to accuse an entire South Jersey industry of doing anything illegal crosses a line. Hirsh Singh should immediately apologize to the farming community.”
Mike Muller, spokesman for the Democratic front-runner, State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, called Singh “downright reckless by casting aspersions on our vital agricultural industry in South Jersey.”
“His disrespectful comments warrant an apology to our hard-working farmers that generate more than $1 billion in economic impact to our state,” said Muller.
Another Republican House candidate, retired FBI agent Robert Turkavage, says that Singh’s statement on farmers is “essentially more of the same.”
“It has the effect of tearing people apart rather than bringing people together,” Turkavage said.
For South Jersey farmers, fear mongering for political gain could have a devastating effect on the local economy. And some farmers outright deny Singh’s allegation.
“Our industry is heavily regulated, the government checks that all our employees have the proper paperwork and for Hirsh Singh to make an accusation against our industry is wrong,” said Tom Sheppard, a farmer and former Cumberland County freeholder.
Singh took heat last week for being late on filing his personal financial disclosure. When he did file, the news shifted to his lack of wealth after some Republicans – Singh denies this – claimed that he promised to put $2 million into his own campaign.
“Hirsh Singh’s rambling and incoherent comments on immigration policies demonstrate that he has a barely tenuous grasp of this incredibly important issue, and Singh’s cruel suggestion to separate south jersey families underscores his heartless approach,” said Muller. “Sadly, you would imagine Hirsh Singh would be better versed on immigration policy considering the fact that he has been a failed serial candidate vying to be Governor, US Senator and now Congressman all in the span of approximately one year.”
Fiocchi believes Singh’s recent missteps could hurt the Republican tickets locally.
“From leading people to believe he has millions of dollars lying around to accusations against the area’s farmers, borderline misogynistic social media posts that are easily found on a Democratic website, support of corporate bailouts and his May 7, 2017 tweet touting his ‘pro-marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform’ are all part of a list of reasons why Hirsh Singh cannot be our party’s nominee.” Fiocchi said, “It is clear Hirsh Singh will embarrass and hurt the rest of the Republican ticket in November.”
Updated at 10:16 PM with comment from Michael Byrne, Singh’s campaign manager: “Sam is just trying to deflect because he was caught lying about Hirsh at the Cape May convention. His tales are so outrageous people are liable to start calling him ‘Finocchio.’ He should apologize to every Republican voter in South Jersey for lying about Hirsh.”
Updated at 11:40 PM with comment from Fiocchi spokesman Steve Kush: “For Michael Byrne to argue that Sam is trying to deflect and accuse him of lying is ridiculous given that at the :46 second mark of the video their campaign provided you Singh says, ‘…Without any experience I ran head first and put a million dollars to run against him…’ That’s a lie! Hirsh’s dad put one million dollars into the campaign.”