One way or another, the U.S. 1-area communities that make up New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District will have another hometown representative serving them in the new Congress in 2011.
This year’s election features incumbent Rush Holt, a Democrat who was first elected to office in 1998, against Scott Sipprelle, a political newcomer who defeated a Tea Party candidate from Oceanport by a margin of 54-46 to win the Republican primary in June.
Both have many community ties. Holt, 61, a Hopewell resident, is the former assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. Sipprelle, 47, a Princeton Borough resident, worked at Morgan Stanley before going out on his own as a venture capitalist and financial manager. His parents are also Princeton residents and both have run (unsuccessfully) as Republicans for a council seat in the heavily Democratic Princeton Borough (U.S. 1, February 3).
Princeton connections aside, Sipprelle and Holt have markedly different views of government. Sipprelle believes in small government and low taxes. Holt supports an active federal government, including its 2008 bank bailout and the new national healthcare plan.
While no debates have been scheduled, they are likely to occur — and already are the subject of some, well, debate. Sipprelle has wanted to debate but claims the Congressman has been dodging the question.
Holt, however, says the two campaigns have been in discussion since July. He suggests four or five debates across the district, beginning after Labor Day. “We will have debates,” says Holt, who has held them during each of his previous campaigns. “We owe it to the people.”
In advance of the debates, U.S. 1 asked journalist John Heenehan, a Madison-based communication consultant (www.rubiconcrossingcommunications.com) and former reporter and editor at the Connecticut Post and Tampa Tribune, to profile the candidates and their positions.