A campaign finance report filed with the state shows some polling has been done by Democrats running for re-election in the 1st District, something they had recently denied doing.

The report filed with the state's Election Law Enforcement Commission lists $5,370 spent for polling in the race for one Senate and two Assembly seats in the November election. The polling was financed by the New Jersey Senate Democratic Majority.

The Republicans had recently accused the Democrats of running negative push polls. State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said no polling had been done.

"I think Senator Van Drew is suffering from a credibility problem. I'm terribly disappointed that he said there was no poll and it turns out there is a poll. It sounds like there are some discrepancies on what is reality and what's he's saying," said Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt, the Republican candidate running against Van Drew.

The ELEC report filed June 24, signed electronically by Van Drew and his campaign treasurer, John Murphy, shows an in-kind contribution of $5,370 from the Democratic Majority. On June 28 Van Drew, responding to complaints by the Republicans that Democrats had conducted a negative push poll, told The Press of Atlantic City that the Democrats had not done any polling.

Van Drew says he was not aware of any polling at that time and argues that the polling that was done is not what is known as a negative push-poll, a technique where the questions can be engineered to create negative views of the opponents and positive views of those financing the poll.

"It has nothing to do with a negative push poll. They're trying to confuse people. We have not conducted a negative push poll. The Democratic majority has not conducted a negative push poll. The state (Democratic) committee has not conducted a negative push poll. They're lobbing statements out there and they're completely being untruthful," Van Drew said.

Allison Murphy, Van Drew's aide, supplied a copy of the poll questions (but not the results) to the media and described it as "clearly an issues poll" and not a push poll. The phone poll, conducted from April 13-15 by the Washington-based Clarity Campaign Labs, LLC, asks the respondents about tax cuts, gun control, women's health care services, gay marriage, abortion and other issues. Murphy says the same questions were asked in polls for all the legislative districts but the names of the specific candidates were changed for each one.

There are questions about all the candidates, including Van Drew and his running mates, Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Robert Andrzejczak along with Adelizzi-Schmidt and her running mate, Kristine Gabor and Sam Fiocchi. The questions do not seem to have any negative connotations and are pretty straight forward.

"If the election for state senator were held today, and the candidates were Democrat Jeff Van Drew and Republican Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt, for whom would you vote?"one question asks.

The poll does outline some statewide issues, showing competing views from the Democrats and Republicans, and asking how the person would vote. Here is one example:

"Republicans say that the best way to support New Jersey's comeback from the recession would be an across the board 10 percent income tax cut. This across-the-board cut will give all of New Jersey's families immediate tax relief, and will welcome job creators back to our state.

"Democrats say Governor Christie's 10 percent tax cut is fiscally irresponsible because there is no plan to pay for it and would primarily benefit the rich. Democrats instead would provide a 20 percent property tax cut to middle-class families by eliminating a special tax break for millionaires.

"Press 1 if hearing these things makes you more likely to vote for the Democratic candidates for State Legislature, press 2 if it makes you more likely to vote for the Republican candidates for State Legislature, or press 9 if it makes no difference or you do not know."

Adelizzi-Schmidt initially reacted to the ELEC report saying it was the "smoking gun" and Van Drew had been caught lying. Back in June she said she received calls from people reporting a negative push poll that personally attacked her, her family and her business, a public relations and marketing firm. She still has no details of the poll but said the fact remains a poll has been done.

"He clearly stated there was no poll," she noted.

Adelizzi-Schmidt challenged the Democrats to release the full details on the polling.

"If Senator Van Drew and the Democrats want to run a personal smear campaign against me instead of focusing on the issues, then they should own it," Adelizzi-Schmidt said. "I again challenge them to release a full transcript of their negative push poll and put their cards on the table. I am confident local voters will reject their low-ball tactics and reward me for running a campaign on the issues they care about most like our local jobs crisis and rising property taxes during Jeff's 11 years in Trenton."

The two sides have been trading jabs since the June primary, arguing over debates, campaign spending, lawn signs and other issues. The Republicans had also accused the Democrats of employing a tracker to attend and take video at Republican campaign stops. Van Drew has denied the charge.

Contact Richard Degener:


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