Blind Rabbi Picks Up Steam in Race

By Jennifer Siegel

Published February 27, 2008, issue of March 07, 2008.
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Rabbi Dennis Shulman is gaining ground in his Democratic congressional bid to unseat Rep. Scott Garrett in northern New Jersey’s fifth congressional district.

If elected, Shulman, a nationally known clinical psychologist who has been blind since adolescence, will become the only rabbi to serve in Congress. While Garrett, a conservative Republican first elected in 2003, is still the overwhelming favorite in the race, Shulman has garnered considerable Democratic support and is poised to defeat his primary rival, civil rights attorney Camille Abate, in the party’s June contest. Shulman is expected to receive the official support of the Bergen County Democratic Organization by March 1, which would ensure that his name appears on the same line as the county’s current officeholders on the June primary ballot. Locally, he leads the endorsement race, with more than a dozen Bergen County Democratic officials backing his campaign, while on a national level, Shulman has won the backing of former presidential candidate and retired general Wesley Clark, who announced his support February 25.

While Shulman has raised nearly $200,000 since launching his bid last September and has roughly $175,000 remaining, Garrett’s year-end report showed him with $352,000 in cash on hand.

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