U.S. Senate Democratic Primary: Holt and Pallone tag team on Booker education record

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12), Hopewell, calls himself the progressive problem-solver in the U.S. Senate contest, and identifies public education as a key area distinguishing himself from front-runner Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6), Long Branch, also the self-identified progressive problem-solver in the race, likewise has a problem with Booker’s record and cites education.

On the Brian Lehrer Show Tuesday, Pallone said Booker is cozying up to Republican Gov. Chris Christie in a way that does not advance the interests of most New Jerseyans.

“He has this relationship with Gov. Christie that hasn’t resulted in anything positive,” said the congressman, and cited the governor’s and Booker’s common stance on education.

Earlier today, Holt also took a turn on Lehrer’s show.

“I’ve got a record second to none,” said the Congressman, holding up his record on equal pay, making college more affordable and “opposing diverting public funds away from public schools.” He called himself the person out there speaking about climate change, the holdout on the cap and trade bill to make it stronger, and a longtime champion of alternative energy since long before he went to Congress.

He reiterated later, “I don’t support diverting money from public schools, vouchers.”

Front-runner Booker is on record in support of school vouchers and has been a frontline ally of Christie’s in support of the expansion of charter schools, standardized teacher evaluation tests and the end of teacher tenures.

Holt noted his opposition to domestic surveillance and his leadership of election and voting reform.

“What I’m laying out here is whether it’s votes cast, amendments offered, actions taken…I’m the one with the record as the true progressive here,” the congressman said. “I was one of the strongest early opponents of the Iraq War.”

The other Central Jersey Democratic Congressman in the four-person race, Pallone also opposed the Iraq War.

He took the lead in the congress on the Affordable Care Act.

“The healthcare reform seeks to solve those problems,” Pallone said. “Almost everyone will have health insurance. They will have a good policy, particulalry important for women.”

Holt said he wants to go farther.

“I’m the only candidate proposing universal single-payer healthcare coverage,” the 12th District Congressman told Lehrer, and also offered himself, based on a record of competing in and winning tough elections, as the most “battle-tested” candidate in the contest.

In his guest spot on Lehrer’s show, Pallone repeatedly identified his record on the issues.

“I think it should be about not only about policy but who should get things done,” said Pallone. “One of the issues that comes up is global warming. A lot of the problems like Superstorm Sandy are going to continue because of global warming.”

The Long Branch Congressman said he has veteran experience on environmental issues, including leading the fight to shut down ocean dumping.

“I’m the kind of person who has a history of dealing with problems like that,” he said.

Pallone took Lehrer’s invitation to tag Booker. “I don’t think he’s the heir apparent,” he said. “People are going to focus on the issues and the record.”

Expanding on his view that the mayor has nurtured overly close cross-the-aisle relations with Christie, Pallone specifically cited state cuts to Newark which have resulted in police layoffs.

"This meeting is entirely off the record. Until somebody leaks it."
—Michael Kempner, addressing a roomful of Democratic powerbrokers organizng for Hillary Clinton