Rome was built on Seven Hills. And, [at least] for last night, Mountainside, NJ was built on the seven Republican candidates for Congress in the 7th District.
Seven for the 7th. And come June 3rd, only one of them will roll the lucky number seven and be the winner. But which?
And so, I attended the packed house last night for what will probably be the final mass debate between [amongst?] the Republican candidates for the 7th congressional district in central Jersey. Every candidate was in their respective chairs right at 7:30pm on the dot, except for Tom Roughneen, who arrived fashionably late at 7:444pm. So the former military man can’t tell time? Or is there too much traffic on Route 22? Maybe traffic in the district is an issue that should be dealt with. But Roughneen was in time for his first question, and came out battlin' right away.
WordPlay: The top seven most often said words/phrases from last night’s debate:
 Taxes,  Linda Stender,  conservative,  pro-life,  Iraq,  tax cuts, and  the ever present, “family values”.
And some new fangled phraseology:
From Mayor Marty Marks---'across-the-board' conservative, as opposed to just plain old 'conservative' or the now ancient 'compassionate conservative'.
From A.D. Amar, calling himself a 'shoestring' conservative, for running his campaign on a 'shoestring' budget.
Also, the least frequently said phrase was from Kelly Hatfield---“We live in a global world”. Duh. She also said that the most important issue in the race for her was that “North Plainfield needs their own zip code”. Most of the night Hatfield sounded like the Miss South Carolina teen that was asked why Americans had trouble reading maps. Not ready for prime time.
There were barbs thrown, occasionally.
Here is the barb scorecard:
By Mayor Marty Marks at Senator Leonard Lance and former first daughter Kate Whitman: Topic: For being “moderates”, and not being ‘conservative’.
By Tom Roughneen at Senator Leonard Lance. Topic: For being endorsed by the Sierra Club, and accused the Senator of wanting ten dollar a gallon gasoline.
[Only to neo-con Republicans would be being ‘moderate’ or endorsed by a leading environmental group be considered worthy of attack.]
By Kate Todd-Whitman-Annis [whew!]. Topic: At all the candidates for attacking her for being a “Whitman”.
[Former first mother Governor Christie Todd Whitman was ‘in da house’, cheering her first daughter on, flying in from a trip to Beijing. Now that's motherly love.]
[Once again, Whitman the younger was noticeably passionless, and filled with political clichés. She went on and on touting her “Six Point Plan” to set Congress right----points that sound as if they were taken point by point from the playbook of the other six candidates.]
By Kate Whitman, at all the candidates: Topic: For voting for tax increases, including Marks and Hatfield.
[Note to Katie: Dr. Amar, Tom Roughneen and Darren Young have never held office, and therefore have never voted for tax increases]
Mayor Marks, at Whitman and Roughneen. Topic: For not ever having been elected to anything, but criticizing himself and Hatfield for raising taxes in their respective towns.
“Walk a mile in my shoes, first”, chided the Mayor. “Or get elected to a local office first.” Point well made.
Libertarian and self-described Sabrin for Senate running mate, Darren Young. At, well, himself. Topic: He asserted that he was a direct descendent of President John Adams, and declared that he “…would have had the endorsement of Adams…I think.”
[You can never tell if you’re gonna get the support of family members---especially if they’re dead.]
Noticeably , Senator Lance noticeably kept above the fray. Being the probable leader in the group will compel one to do just that.
Overall, it was a fun evening of political merriment. The format was a bit freaky---just one hour of “debate” for seven candidates and not a question allowed from the packed crowd. Two minutes per answer per candidate allowed for only a very brief glimpse in to the minds of each Republican. Maybe a run-off election should be statutory in such circumstances.
Shout out to Max Pizzaro of PolitickerNJ, whom I read everyday and got to meet for the very first time.
Enjoy the freedom to think, speak, blog, and chat this Memorial Day weekend, remembering all those who gave their lives so we can live free. Thanks, dad.