The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Another Suspicious ‘Tea Party’ Candidate in New Jersey


Elsewhere on NRO, Jesse Naiman has a nice profile of Jon Runyan, the former Philadelphia Eagle running for Congress as a Republican in New Jersey, seeking to replace Rep. John Adler.

Apparently there’s a recent odd development in this race, and those noted right-wingers on the Star Ledger editorial board — for those of you not familiar with New Jersey, I’m being sarcastic — are noticing:

Who the heck is Peter DeStefano?

Well, he claims to be an independent tea party loyalist. But the Runyan camp believes he is a fake, an Adler plant designed to siphon Runyan’s support. They might have a point: No organized tea party group had ever heard of DeStefano before he announced his candidacy.

DeStefano says “it’s ridiculous” to suggest he is working with the Adler campaign. He calls himself a former Reagan Republican. But as the evidence piles up, he sounds more like an Adler Republican. Although the Adler campaign insists it is not behind DeStefano’s candidacy, longtime Adler supporters and donors signed DeStefano’s petition to get on the ballot.

“No staff member on John Adler’s campaign has contacted Peter DeStefano or his campaign,” Adler campaign manager Geoff Mackler said. That may be true. But campaigns can use free agents to do dirty work, too.

. . . When asked about his campaign, DeStefano said he had been “going to diners and Wawa, telling people I’m running for Congress.”

So, in an election involving tens of thousands of voters, with control of the House of Representatives and a nation’s legislative agenda at stake, DeStefano wants voters to believe he’s making his march to Washington one warmed-over chili dog at a time.

Even with a 32-ounce soft drink, that’s a little hard to swallow.

Tags: John Adler , Jon Runyan


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review