Former President Bill Clinton will be in northern New Jersey this week to campaign for Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell, who is battling fellow Democrat Rep. Steve Rothman in a hotly contested primary in the 9th Congressional District.
Clinton announced his endorsement of Pascrell earlier this month.
The two incumbents, with relatively similar voting records, are vying for the same seat because New Jersey lost a congressional district through redistricting. The district includes portions of southern and eastern Bergen County, as well as portions of Hudson and Passaic counties.
During a heated debate at Montclair State University earlier this month, Pascrell touted Clinton's endorsement:
Both candidates did their best to tie themselves to the current Democratic administration in the White House. Pascrell pointed to his endorsement by Bill Clinton, and Rothman reminded the audience of his early support for President Barack Obama.
But Rothman pointed to his early support of Obama as evidence of a progressive streak. During the first debate between the incumbents, the pair used vitriol typically reserved for attacks against Republicans:
Pascrell claimed Rothman moved out of his old district and into Englewood so he had a better shot at winning an election after his old district was redrawn.
"That's not supporting the President of the United States when we're trying to get back to a majority in the House of Representatives,” Pascrell said.
Rothman lived in Fair Lawn in what had been the 9th district territory pre-redistricting. Had he chosen to stay there he would have had to run against conservative Republican incumbent Scott Garrett whose 5th district was re-drawn with Fair Lawn in it. Rothman opted to move back to Englewood, where he served as mayor.
That made him eligible to take on his frequent dining companion Pascrell, who saw much of his district folded into what would be called the new 9th.
The primary is June 5.