Rik Mehta, heretofore, had been a rather anonymous figure.
But the Republican candidate against Cory Booker got his proverbial 15 minutes of fame today from no less a Democrat than Phil Murphy.
After first saying he didn’t know who he was, Murphy said Mehta is not qualified to stay in the race. The governor then said that Mehta must be in “outer space.”
All of this came about after Mehta said he doesn’t plan to self-quarantine after attending last Thursday’s fundraiser at President Trump’s golf club in Bedminster.
That fundraiser is now a growing political issue.
Some reports suggest that the president already had contacted COVID-19 when he hosted the fundraiser.
With that in mind, Murphy said the 206 people who attended the fundraiser, plus 19 staffers, should self-quarantine and be tested.
That is what Mehta, a pharmacist and health scientist, is rebelling against.
He said in a Facebook video that he was about 40 feet away from the president during the event, so there is no need for him to self-quarantine. He said Murphy was “fear mongering.”
And perhaps anticipating some criticism from the governor, Mehta says in a video recorded Sunday night, “Gov. Murphy, I’ve got four degrees, buddy.”
In the video, Mehta also takes some swipes at the media for how the president’s illness is being reported. Mehta said the media should be complimenting the president’s courage and strength.
Murphy did say that it’s important to consider humanity, and not politics, when looking at Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
But that doesn’t get the fundraiser off the hook.
The state got the list of attendees from the National Republican Committee and has begun contacting them. Murphy said he wants them all to get tested and to quarantine. He said some are a bit unhappy about being contacted by state officials.
There’s also a question as to whether the event violated pandemic regulations in regard to social distancing and size. The governor said the AG would investigate, but was a bit vague on what precisely can happen. Recall that back in the summer, Murphy exempted political gatherings from such regulations. That came after the governor himself took part in a protest march that seemed to violate his own executive orders.
The governor also said that the Bedminster fundraiser should not have happened.
Or as he put it, the event was “completely unnecessary, completely reckless and completely uncalled for.”