Brent Sonnek-Schmelz, the Republican candidate for congress in New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District (parts of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties) publicly challenged Congressman Frank Pallone to two debates today after not hearing back from the 28 year incumbent after extending a private invitation.
“Congressman Pallone should live up to his own words and debate me. The people of the Sixth District deserve to hear him defend his failed policies and tell us why after 28 years in Congress, the loss of Fort Monmouth and the government corruption following Sandy, he deserves reelection,” said Sonnek-Schmelz. “Pallone was chomping at the bit for debates when it would have benefited him politically during his failed U.S. Senate campaign. Failure by Mr. Pallone to agree to these debates would reveal him to not only be a hypocrite, but a brazen one at that. I am hoping he exceeds my expectations and agrees to stand on a stage with me and contrast our competing visions for the country and our district face-to-face.”
The challenger noted that Pallone called for debates in his unsuccessful 2013 U.S. Senate primary against then Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
“It’s not fair to the voters, because they need to hear from us,” Pallone told The Daily Beast in an interview during the 2013 primary campaign, “and they need to have interaction between us so they can judge us and see where we stand on the issues and see what we’re going to do when we’re elected, and he’s (Cory Booker) just been absent from all the debates so far.”
“Democracy is based on the free exchange of ideas; debating issues to find a solution reasonable people can agree upon,” Pallone said in a 2007 press release criticizing the Republican Majority in the U.S. Senate.
In a letter to Pallone released by Sonneck-Schmelz’s campaign, the Republican said that Monmouth University has indicted their willingness to host a debate. Sonneck-Schmelz suggested a second debate in Middlesex County.
In his letter, Sonnek-Schmelz said, “I have traveled all over the 6th Congressional District in the past several months and met many of the wonderfully diverse people who call its communities home. The greatest takeaway has been how unsure they are about the future of our nation; how worried they are about our economy and their security; how frustrated they are with Washington, DC and Members of Congress in both parties.”
The receptionist at Pallone’s Long Branch campaign office told MoreMonmouthMusings that someone would get back to us when we called to ask if the Congressman would accept the challenge.