With Primary Over, Pascrell Focuses on November

After a hard fought race against a fellow incumbent Democrat, Congressman Bill Pascrell defeated Congressman Steve Rothman to represent New Jersey’s new 9th District. Pascrell focused his campaign on increasing voter turnout in his strong holds.

He’s said he is focused on reaching out to his new constituents. He said in five months he’s been in every new town in the district.

“If you’re not prepared to do that legwork, then you shouldn’t be there. You’re a representative,” he told WNYC. He added he would work to unite people, not divide them.

The state lost a congressional seat after the last census.  In the redistricting scramble that followed, Rothman ended in Republican Scott Garrett’s district. But, instead of facing off against Garrett in November, Rothman moved his residence. It was to his hometown, but it also put him in a fight he thought he could win, by challenging Pascrell, 75, in the primary.

When asked how he might heal the rift the primary caused between the two Democratic colleagues, Pascrell noted that “Steve chose this race.”

Rothman said he won’t run for public office again but that he’ll campaign for Pascrell in the fall.

Pascrell understood that the numbers favored Rothman, but said when faced with a challenge he tries to rise to the occasion. “And this was a challenge,” he said. “So I wasn’t going to go south. I looked at the numbers, everybody said…there were overwhelming numbers, just don’t count him out. And I’m glad they didn’t count me out.”

He will face Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who won the Republican nomination. The rabbi is a TV personality who authored the book "Kosher Sex" and was a onetime spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson.