The family values debate hit southern New Jersey on Wednesday as U.S. Rep. William Hughes accused his opponent, Frank LoBiondo
, of trashing his family.
denied the charge and added that he thinks Democrat Hughes is resorting
to such tactics because he may be sinking in the polls.
Hughes, of Ocean City, fired the first salvo during a press conference here attended by a score of his supporters.
His ammunition? A LoBiondo
fund-raising letter that makes no mention of Hughes' family, but plenty of LoBiondo
By implication, the letter impugns his family, the congressman charged.
It "hits a new low, for in all my years, I have not had a single opponent who resorted to such political garbage," Hughes said.
The letter touts that the LoBiondo
family passes family values down through the generations. It then says:
"Those values, shared by Americans like us from all walks of life, must
be returned to Congress."
"What is it that he finds lacking in
my personal life and my family that prompts him to imply that I have
less to be proud of, or to imply that his family values are superior to
mine?" Hughes asked.
Hughes' wife, Nancy, said in an interview
she was "appalled" when she read the letter. "We worked hard raising our
kids," she said of their four children and five grandchildren.
denied that he was gunning for the Hughes family in his fund-raising
letter, which went out to Republicans throughout the sprawling southern
New Jersey district within the last few weeks.
"I'm not implying
that Bill Hughes' family lacks family values. It's not stated in the
letter. It's not mentioned," the Vineland Republican said.
Hughes also took issue with LoBiondo
's characterizations of the incumbent's conduct during the recent House
check-bouncing scandal. Hughes was one of the few members of the House
who did not bounce any checks.
still takes note that the Democrat, in his view, "fought hard to cover
up the check-bouncing scandal. He tried to protect congressmen and their
employees at the House bank from indictment for criminal wrongdoing."
Hughes countered that he voted to release all the banking records to the special counsel assigned to look into the scam. LoBiondo
, however, said Hughes only voted for that measure after voting for
another resolution that would have allowed a judge to first screen the
records before passing them on to the special counsel.
Republican said he believes Hughes is showing a sign of political
weakness by attacking him for sending out what he termed an ordinary
"I'm almost feeling good," LoBiondo said. "Obviously it indicates I'm winning the race, because the first rule of the incumbent is to ignore the challenger.
"I assume he's done some polling that shows I'm winning," LoBiondo
said, adding he has no firsthand knowledge of any such poll.