Anna Little Debates Ham Sandwich;
Bader Qarmout Takes the Stage
Thursday, May 24, 2012—A debate was scheduled to occur last night in Oakhurst, between Tea Party favorite Anna Little and her opponent in the GOP NJ 6th Congressional District primary, GOP candidate Ernesto Cullari. The debate, sponsored and organized by the Jersey Shore Tea Party Group at the Fireman's Memorial Field fieldhouse, never happened.
Cullari withdrew from the debate less than 48 hours before it was scheduled to occur. His office stated that they had not known that the appearance was to be a debate. This was refuted by Mark Falzone of the Jersey Shore Tea Party (sponsor of the event), who can produce communications showing that Cullari's campaign knew of the format.
The Jersey Shore Tea Party found an understudy for Mr. Cullari. A ham sandwich was drafted for the job. No gaffes occured during the sandwich's very limited platform speech.
Without the pressure of the debate, Anna was free to discuss her campaign as well as policy issues. The two intersect where the other candidate has a bad policy record, and Frank Pallone has claimed authorship of ObamaCare.
Anna also displayed a wide array of Anna Little "merchandise." From buttons ("These are not jewelry, guys! You can wear them,") to ballpoint pens and nail files, there's no excuse for the District 6 voter who hasn't heard of Anna Little. (All that's missing is a line of beachwear and a cologne.)
In the last election for NJ 6, Anna almost upset Frank Pallone. Credit must go to the army of supporters who turned out to walk the pavement for her, handing out literature, knocking on doors, and marching in support. The Pallonists are forewarned this time, but the boundaries of NJ 6 have moved, and some of his advantage has gone with them. The health care takeover grows less popular by the week. And the Democratic Party, its big labor warchest under attack in Wisconsin and Indiana, must defend the presidency and the Senate, so this race should be a mostly local contest.
But before Anna Little can face Frank Pallone in the general election she must get through the primary, where her opponent is an invisible cipher, a blank slate on which the county and state GOP can impress their persona and their message. That worked well for the Democrats in 2008, but it has done the country much ill since then. Anna Little and her supporters have ten days to make their case.
Because the ham sandwich did not take questions, there was time for a second candidate to appear. Bader Qarmout is running for the US Senate seat now occupied by Bob Menendez. His primary opponents are longtime GOP politician Joe Kyrillos and Joe "Rudy" Rullo, who, like Qarmout, is coming from the world of business.
Qarmout is an immigrant, having come to the USA as a child with his family, from Jordan where prejudice and persecution of Christians were on the rise.
In his lifetime, Bader says, he has seen this country change. He has seen it decline. It is losing its soul, and he decided to run for office in order to give his children the same country he received. This message was received enthusiastically.
He found it harder to get a hearing for his plan for immigration reform, which includes closing the border and giving people already here a limited chance to go to the far back of the line, paying a substantial penalty while waiting for years to even begin the existing process. There are surely many worse plans, and few that thread the objections and demands as well. Whether it threads them well enough is yet to be determined, but discussion of the plan was delayed by a perception among some attendees that the plan would turn out to be amnesty. If badly implemented or knavishly amended, it might turn out just that way, but at the end of the meeting most present agreed that it deserved a better hearing than they had given it.
If Mr. Qarmout is to make his case on this plan to Tea Party conservatives, he must find a way to hold these objections at bay or answer them in advance. It will be a shame if he cannot, because when he has been heard he has been well-received. He and his supporters have ten days.