Sure, times are tough for Republican incumbents all over the country, but you wouldn’t want to be running Scott Garrett’s congressional reelection campaign. Sure, he holds a seat in New Jersey’s solidly Republican 5th district that has been GOP property for decades, and there are almost twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats in the affluent district. But who’d want to run for the party of an epically unpopular president when the opponent is a blind rabbi?
Blind since his childhood, Dennis Shulman graduated from Brandeis with honors, has a Ph.D. from Harvard, is a nationally-recognized psychologist, a published author, and was ordained as a Reform rabbi in 2003. Not exactly an underachiever, but Shulman has set himself the challenge of becoming the first Rabbi ever to serve in Congress — and the first blind congressman since 1935.
A self-described mainstream Democrat, Shulman is “outraged” by the direction in which the Bush Administration has taken the country. And despite Garret’s advantages of incumbency, he believes he has a decent chance of unseating the Republican. According to his campaign’s internal polling, the district has caught the “change” bug: 69% of the district thinks the country is on the wrong track, and even Republican voters overwhelmingly disapprove of President Bush’s performance. According to the Shulman numbers, the district’s lopsided Republican-to-Democrat registration notwithstanding, an equal number of voters plan to vote Republican (39%) as plan to vote Democrat (39%).