The Courier-Post has a blockbuster story this morning about the NJ-3 race between Democratic incumbent John Adler and Republican Jon Runyan.It seems that the third candidate in the race, an unknown named Peter DeStefeno, who is running on the "NJ Tea Party" line, is actually a Democratic plant. Here's the Courier-Post:
On a balmy evening last May, about three dozen members of the South Jersey Young Democrats convened at the Camden County Democratic Committee Headquarters in Cherry Hill.
Freeholder Jeffrey Nash warned the assembled crowd of party volunteers and legislative aides that the sour economy would make the coming election season difficult for the Democratic majority.
He told the young activists they had to get out the vote for Democrats in the fall.
Then Steve Ayscue -- a paid CCDC consultant -- took the floor with a bearded, flame-haired man few had seen before. The latter was Geoff Mackler, dispatched from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to lead freshman Rep. John Adler's re-election campaign.
Ayscue and Mackler had a plan to ensure Adler's victory. They just needed volunteers.
Internal numbers-crunching showed the difference between Adler and his Republican opponent -- then undetermined -- would hover around 5 percent. To give Adler an edge, Ayscue had recruited a then-unidentified man to run as a third-party candidate.
That candidate would act as a conservative spoiler to confuse voters and pull votes from Adler's eventual Republican challenger. But first he had to get on the ballot. With the filing deadline just weeks away, CCDC needed volunteers to hit the streets and collect signatures -- fast.
Some of the SJYD members were stunned. Others willingly signed on.
By June 8, more than the 100 valid signatures needed were collected and received by the state Division of Elections. . . .
Several Democratic operatives who attended the May 26 meeting, or who have direct knowledge of the campaign or CCDC operations, spoke about the DeStefano plan on condition of anonymity, telling the Courier-Post they had ethical qualms with the Adler campaign. At least one pointed out the plan is already ostensibly working, since absentee ballots are being cast.
Sources said Adler's congressional and campaign staff carried out the plan with the help of CCDC staffers and volunteers.
"The goal was to take 5 percent of (Republican Jon) Runyan's vote," said one South Jersey Democrat. "Steve Asycue designed the plan with Geoff Mackler following his lead."
Meanwhile, Adler has by turns ignored questions about the DeStefano campaign or denied his campaign's involvement in it.