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Vol. LXIV, No. 43
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
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Rep. Rush Holt Calls 12th District Race A “Distinct Choice”

Ellen Gilbert

Democratic incumbent Rush Holt, who has represented the 12th Congressional District in New Jersey since 1998, is being challenged by Republican Scott Sipprelle in a contentious race for the seat in the House of Representatives. Below, Mr. Holt elaborates on his accomplishments, his perspective on government, and his campaign.

“The central question of this campaign is: to whom does the American Dream belong? All of us? Or a privileged few?,” Mr. Holt stated, characterizing the debate as both national and local. “My opponent and I have very different views and very different answers to the question. Everything I’ve done, before I was in Congress and since, has been about expanding opportunity.”

“That applies broadly. Expanding educational opportunity is something I’ve been about for most of my life. Expanding business opportunities through innovation, new ideas, research, that is related as well. And whether it’s making jobs, helping small business, improving the environment, looking after veterans, or expanding educational opportunities, all of this is about expanding the American Dream,” Mr. Holt remarked.

Self-identifying as someone who wants to “move forward on Social Security, and the GI Bill, and community colleges and Medicare,” Mr. Holt called Mr. Sipprelle “someone who says we can’t afford to do those things.”

Mr. Holt said he derives satisfaction from a number of the bills he has authored and coauthored in Congress, and that his accessibility to his constituents is a source of pride. “People tell me, ‘I’ve never seen a Congressman who is so accessible and who works so hard to communicate in both directions, to speak and to listen.’ ”

“Constituent service is absolutely central to making representative democracy work,” he added.

Responding to statements by Mr. Sipprelle, who has characterized Mr. Holt as a “career politician,” Mr. Holt said, “Someone who has gone to Congress after age 50 is not what you would call a career politician. I’ve never ever lost sight of the fact that I serve in this job at the pleasure of the people of the 12th District.”

As for accomplishments, Mr. Holt pointed out that he had worked on the consumer protections bill in conjunction with Wall Street reform. “For the first time there is someone who is looking after the consumer in an ordinary financial transaction.”

On the subject of education, Mr. Holt characterized himself as “the leader in Congress on improving science and math education.” He has created and advocated for numerous college scholarships, and has urged the study of foreign languages to improve U.S. intelligence and security.

Additionally, Mr. Holt is the author of farm-to-school legislation, and veterans mental healthcare legislation. Increasing access to education at all levels and promoting community banks and small businesses were also cited as issues he has worked on.

As for the financial crisis, Mr. Holt said that while Congress did “staunch the bleeding” and check the “plummeting economy,” there is still more to be done. “We have to maintain unemployment benefits, we have to make health insurance available through COBRA.”

“The economy needs full attention now. It is sputtering and the jobs situation is dismal...the number of people who have been out of work is greater than what we’ve seen in a lifetime,” he noted.

Cautioning voters to take the election seriously, Mr. Holt urged people not to see November 2 as “a day to express frustrations,” whether they are on the left or the right of the political spectrum. Casting a protest vote or not voting is “not the way into the future. It’s my task to get people focused on the idea that November 2 is about choice. And we have a particular and distinct choice here in the 12th District.”

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