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Making the rounds on the eve of the election, Republican Michael Testa – vying for a senate seat in LD1 – feels confident of victory, and at peace in his belief that the scorched earth attacks by the allies of his opponent will backfire in a Republican district. The fusillade of mail and TV attacks seek to depress turnout, he said, and sow the seed of inaction in the electorate. But Testa had optimism tonight – and pride in his profession and his record, and the example of his father and grandfather – as he prepared for Election Day.
“I feel I left everything on the field,” said the Republican. “This is a Phil Murphy referendum. I made the case to the voters. Bob Andrzejczak makes like he’s an independent back home and in Trenton he votes with Phil Murphy 95% of the time. I believe that his attempts at showing himself as an independent have failed. He’s funded by a General Majority PAC that proves he’s a puppet. The PAC released a mail piece condemned as racist by four Democrat leaders, three of four of whom are African Americans, who deemed as vile and disgusting that piece; and I must say I appreciated Chairman Currie’s intellectual honesty when he said ‘if we are going to condemn someone in Virginia for racist we have to be prepared to do the same in New Jersey, in our own party’. And when you asked him [Andrzejczak] about that piece, his answer was ‘I’m not allowed to coordinate with a PAC.’ That’s because he knew if he bit the hand that feeds him, his campaign would be over.”
Testa, 43, who practices law in the Vineland office with his father that his grandfather founded, said he was appalled by the ads unleashed by the General Majority PAC that criticized him for his work as a criminal defense attorney. “Not only am I proud I ran fact based and issues based campaign that made my father very proud, but my grandfather – valedictorian of his class and a superior court judge – is looking down very proud of the fact that I defended our profession. I’m a proud third generation lawyer. It befuddles me that Bob Andrzejczak, who defended this country in war, allowed a PAC to attack one who defends individuals’ constitutional rights in the State of New Jersey.”
Testa invoked the example of John Adams, the country’s first vice president and second president, who defended British soldiers who took part in the Boston Massacre; and Abe Lincoln, another criminal defense attorney. “I really am perplexed at the left’s attacks and on our president,” Testa said, referring to the House impeachment inquiry. “They don’t want due process. That I can be attacked for a noble profession – that’s what I believe it is, as I am a defender of the constitutional rights of indviduals – shows the possibility of a slippery slope.”
It won’t work, said the Republican candidate for senate.
“I have heard the backlash against their negativity and deceit,” Testa said. “People in Cape May County and here in Cumberland County, here in my hometown, where I’ve been a hometown guy for 43 years, I’ve heard the response of little league coaches, police – I’m also a PBA lawyer, cops are upset at the allegations. They tried to paint me as a bad person because I defended people accused of crimes.”
There’s an irony there for Testa, he said, as he pointed to the South Jersey Democratic Power Broker whose political network fuels the PAC funding Team Andrzejczak’s dark money arm. “When George Norcoss has been accused of misdeeds with the EDA, and he has hired the top crimnal defense attorneys in the state, and Bob Andrzejczak allows a PAC to attack me because I’m a lawyer. His boss has three criminal defense attorneys lined up for him. I wouldn’t knock them for doing their jobs at all.
“He’s entitled to assemble a New Jersey Dream Team,” he said.
But the voters in the district must vote out Andrzejczak, he said, on grounds that he is not independent, and must not be allowed to have it both ways.
“This is where I’ve been enriched,” Testa said of the district, reflecting on the campaign he has run. “I’ve been here my whole life, but I haven’t gotten to interact with people quite this way. I’ve met so many people who take the same pride that I do in what LD1 could become if we had real representatives and real voices in Trenton. My opponent is not partially compromised, he’s fully comprised. He says he is a disciple of Jeff Van Drew, but I’ve never seen a Jeff Van Drew campaign run in this despicable manner.”
Van Drew was hands-on when he ran for the state senate, Testa said.
Andrzejczak is not, he maintained.
“I’ve done the same,” said the Republican, referring to the style in which Van Drew ran his salvos into Trenton. That said, on the policy front, Van Drew failed, said Testa, and he wants LD1 to succeed.
“The people of LD1 tomorrow will see through the Democrats’ deceptive campaign,” he said.