When Michael Wildes ran for re-election as mayor of Englewood in 2006, former President Bill Clinton did a robocall to boost his efforts.
Now Wildes, seeking a return to his old job, has brought back the 12-year-old robocall, using the Clinton endorsement in his campaign against the organization-backed candidate, Englewood Democratic Municipal Chairman Phil Meisner.
Meisner is crying foul.
The 2018 robocall repackages the Clinton endorsement with a message from Assembly Speaker Pro-Tempore Gordon Johnson. When Clinton originally recorded the call, Johnson was supporting independent Robert Stern for mayor. Now Johnson is with Wildes.
“Michael Wildes should apologize to Englewood residents for his misleading robocall, he should apologize to President Clinton for recycling a twelve-year-old recording and he should also apologize to Assemblyman Johnson for stripping away his last bit of credibility by forcing him to validate this nonsense,” Meisner told the New Jersey Globe.
But the Wildes campaign hit back, saying Meisner’s criticism of the Clinton robocall is a Hail Mary for a losing campaign.
“If the Meisner campaign spent less time complaining and personally attacking Michael Wildes and his supporters and a little more time working and connecting with voters, maybe they wouldn’t be on the verge of a historic defeat on Tuesday,” said Wildes spokesman Phil Swibinski. “This latest bit of sour grapes is just more of the same and the Wildes campaign is not going to be deterred by it.”
It’s unusual for a candidate to reutilize an old robocall, but it was also unusual for a former president to get involved in a mayoral race in a town with a population of 27,147.
Wildes has a relationship with the Clinton’s – he raised money for Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate and presidential campaigns – and the authenticity of the call is not in question: a recording of the 2006 call is included on Wildes’ Wikipedia page.
It’s not Wildes’ connection with Clinton that bothers Meisner, but rather his relationship with Melania Trump. His representation of the First Lady on her own immigration matter has become an issue in the campaign.
As Meisner sees it, the use of the old robocall is one of many reasons why Englewood Democrats should reject Wildes’ attempt to return to local office.
“In these last days of the campaign Trump attorney Michael Wildes has shown exactly why Englewood residents cannot trust him. I picked up the experience we need to move our city in the right direction the last time Michael Wildes dug a huge financial hole for city taxpayers and then walked away,” Meisner said. “He crushed taxpayers last time he was mayor and now he is back to try and finish the job of driving our city into the ground. City residents deserve better.”