Republican Rik Mehta tried to generate some interest in his floundering U.S. Senate campaign by striking out at Governor Phil Murphy, and today the governor lashed back while taking pains to convince reporters that he thinks Mehta is a political non-entity.
Running against incumbent U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mehta was at the Bedminister fundraiser last week staged by President Donald J. Trump. Subsequently he said there was no need for him to quarantine and accused Murphy of “fear-mongering.”
Asked today at the War Memorial if he intends to take any action against those who refuse to quarantine after spending time at an event with people who are COVID-19 positive, including President Donald J. Trump, Murphy responded while slapping down the potential for a Mehta headline.
“I don’t even know who Rick Mehta is,” Murphy told NJ.com’s Brent Johnson.
But he did see what th Republican said.
“I think that statement should disqualify him from seeking public office,” Murphy opined.
Later in the press conference, the governor reasserted his point.
“This guy Mehta, that’s somebody who’s in outer space,” Murphy added.
The immediate aftermath of the fundraiser sparked questions voiced by Somerset County Democratic Committee Chair Peg Schaffer, who expressed particular concerns regarding news that President Donald J. Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
The chair’s statement included the following:
“NJ 101.5, a Pro Trump talk radio station reports that the President knew he, his staff, and his Secret Service protection had been exposed to — in Air Force One’s enclosed cabin with recycled air! — and may have contracted COVID-19 on Thursday morning, and instead of following CDC guidelines and isolating until his test came through Trump came to Somerset County and held an indoor, mask-free fundraiser with Central Jersey business, government, and political leaders.”
“And this morning we wake up to learn that Trump was infected with COVID-19 while glad-handing his supporters in Bedminster.”
“While this is completely irresponsible behavior for anyone, for the President of the United States to risk the health and lives of his own supporters, their families, their neighbors and the workers and wait staff at his club is unfathomably selfish.”