By Art Gallagher
Yesterday I was interviewed by The Star Ledger and went on the record saying that I would be voting for Joe Kyrillos for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District Republican primary on June 4th. Consistent with my slogan of being fair and biased, it is appropriate that I tell you, my readers and the reason my opinion matters to The Star Ledger, that MMM is now part of the story and that I have made a decision that can’t help but color my coverage of the rest of the campaign.
MMM is part of the LD 13 story, instead of just covering the story, because we’ve provided the bulk of the media coverage of the primary campaign to date and because Kyrillos’ challenger, Leigh-Ann Bellew, attacked this site in a press release, according to The Star Ledger.
On many important issues, Life and The Right to Bear Arms in particular, I am in more philosophical agreement with Bellew than I am with Kyrillos. Despite my philosophical differences with Kyrillos, the choice between him and Bellew has become a very easy one. Kyrillos is a very good State Senator. Bellew is a deeply flawed candidate. She never should have exposed herself, her family, and friends who care about her deeply to the rigors and vetting of this campaign.
I first met Bellew when she was a candidate for Congress in 2006. I was not really impressed with her, yet I was impressed by her willingness to take one for the team by running a futile race against Frank Pallone. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who are willing to disrupt their lives to take on the quixotic but necessary endeavor of running against an entrenched incumbent.
In 2010 Bellew and I became acquainted again as part of Anna Little’s ‘inner circle’ in the primary race for the Republican nomination for Congress from the 6th NJ district. I was now impressed with how versed she had become with the nuts and bolts of politics. I became very impressed with her work ethic and commitment. There were a handful of people who were responsible for Little winning the 2010 primary. Bellew was one of them.
Bellew made me aware of the lifesaving good works of the Solutions Pregnancy & Health Center. If the free ad I have given Solutions since Leigh-Ann made me aware of the center saved one life or made a difference in the life of one young women in crisis, I will be forever grateful to Bellew for the opportunity to contribute, however modestly.
During the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Bellew, a Union Beach resident, called me frequently to help coordinate the delivery of supplies and the deployment of Christian volunteers from throughout the country to Highlands and other areas of Monmouth County that were devastated by the storm. No one would have expected Leigh-Ann to give generously of herself during the storm, or noticed if she didn’t. But she gave generously of her time and talents and did so very well.
I admire and deeply respect Leigh-Ann Bellew.
I am also deeply disappointed in her.
It has become apparent that Bellew has inflated her educational and professional credentials throughout her political career. Why, I don’t understand. I know Leigh-Ann Bellew makes significant contributions to society regardless of her credentials. Some of the most accomplished people I know do not have college degrees, graduate degrees or professional degrees.
When questions about Bellew’s credentials started being raised, before they became public, I asked her about her education. She told me she graduated from law school and did not take the bar exam. When PoltickerNJ raised those questions publicly, I called her again. She hasn’t returned that call or any since. I am left to conclude that he has inflated her resume. That is a fatal flaw for any employment application, especially a public service, elected position.
But that is not my biggest disappointment. My biggest disappointment in Bellew is how she has distorted Joe Kyrillos’ record and that of Assembly Members Amy Handlin and Declan O’Scanlon.
Bellew has virtually no philosophical disagreement with O’Scanlon on Life or The Right to Bear Arms. Her differences with Handlin are negligible and politically insignificant. Yet Bellew has misinformed her gullible running mates and supporters. She has distorted Handlin’s and O’Scanlon’s positions and records. Amy Handlin and Declan O’Scanlon are social and fiscal conservatives who should be supported by social conservatives and Tea Party groups.
Bellew has legitimate differences with Kyrillos over the Life, The Right to Bear Arms, and other issues. Yet, rather than wage an honest campaign on those differences, Bellew has distorted Kyrillos’ record and positions in order to mislead her gullible supporters and running mates into believing Kyrillos is a liberal to the left, or as far left as President Obama. Why? I can’t imagine. A skilled politician and communicator as Bellew purports to be (she’s claimed she worked with Roger Ailes of FoxNews) could simply confront Kyrillos with his multiple contradictory positions over the years on many issues and force him to explain himself. Bob Menendez did it brilliantly last year when he dubbed Kyrillos “multiple choice” on the Life issue. Whatever chance Kyrillos had to gain traction in his uphill battle to unseat the U.S. Senator last year was over when the Menendez dubbed Kyrillos with the “multiple choice” label.
But Bellew had to go overboard and tell people that Kyrillos supports partial birth and late term birth abortions. He does not. On that the record is clear.
Rather than exploit Kyrillos’ weaknesses, Bellew surrendered the high ground and allowed her opponent to accurately label her “silly and foolish.”
Bellew’s political track record, from embellishing her own credentials to distorting her opponents’ records, suggests that she believes that in order to win an election, she needs to fool the voters. Either she believes she is unworthy of the office she seeks, or she believes the voters are stupid. In that regard, she has a lot more in common with President Obama than Joe Kyrillos does.
That’s why I am voting against Leigh-Ann Bellew on June 4th, and why I am so very disappointed in her.
Sometime between now and June 4, Why am I am voting for Joe Kyrillos. There is a litany of good reasons for conservatives to vote for Joe Kyrillos. I’ll tell you why I am voting for Joe Kyrillos after the hubbub over this post dies down.