Dennis Shulman 2008 Campaign for the
New Jersey's 5th Congressional District Campaign
This was the official website for Dennis Shulman, Democrat, who in 2008 was looking to unseat Rep. Scott Garrett in the New Jersey 5. Garrett ultimately defeated Shulman 57 percent to 42 percent, with Green Party candidate Ed Fanning rounding out the field.
Content is from the site's 2008 archived content and other outside sources.
Welcome to Shulman for Congress. I'm a concerned citizen running for office, and I want to hear from you! We in New Jersey's 5th Congressional district need to work together to bring about real change and a return to common sense.
We deserve someone who will work to end the war in Iraq, promote energy independence, and fight corruption and special interests in Washington.
Please sign up below to join our team. We'll work together to build a better New Jersey 5th and a better America.
Dennis Shulman is a man of the people and is much loved and respected by those in his community because of his dedication to them. He is both a Harvard PhD and a rabbi! My son and I were promoting a Batman t shirt website at a local street fair when Mr. Shulman found us. My 5 year old wanted to give him one of our Batman Begins t shirts and asked him to put it on right there. He very graciously accommodated and removed his garments to wear the t shirt. As he stood there smiling in a Batman shirt, a member of his congregation yelled out, "Rabbi Batman!" Edna Wolsky
Dr. Dennis Shulman
Renowned author, educator, and clinical psychologist, Dr. Dennis G. Shulman has dedicated his life to serving all segments of the community. Blind since childhood, he has overcome significant obstacles to earn an Ivy League diploma and rise to the top of his profession — and become an ordained rabbi.
Dr. Shulman is running for Congress in New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District because he believes fundamental change is needed in Washington.
“I am running for Congress not as a career politician, but as a concerned citizen,” says Shulman. “I believe that Congress could use more candor and more people with diverse life experiences. We keep sending career politicians to Washington and what do we have to show for it? A big mess. It may very well take a blind man to show Congress the light.”
Dennis has spent his entire life confronting challenges – and surmounting them. Growing up working class and losing his sight at a young age, some predicted that Dennis would never graduate high school. During high school, Dennis worked in a toy factory to help his family pay the bills. However, neither he nor his parents accepted that anything would keep him from achieving the American Dream, and Dennis’ success in high school led to acceptance to college.
He graduated from Brandeis in the class of 1972 Magna cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. That same year Dennis’ volunteer activities on behalf of the developmentally disabled earned him a Special White House Commendation for Outstanding Humanitarian Service and The David Aranow Award for Outstanding Achievement in Social Welfare.
Dennis next moved to Harvard University to begin work toward a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Public Practice. Just two years into the program Dennis won a Training Fellowship from the National Institute for Mental Health and married his college sweetheart, medical student Pam Tropper. He also began what has become an extended series of teaching positions, professional publications, postdoctoral studies and speaking engagements.
Graduating from Harvard, Dennis began his career as a clinical psychologist and as an educator, including more than a decade at Fordham. In 1997, Dennis founded the National Training Program in Contemporary Psychoanalysis at The National Institute for the Psychotherapies, which he continues to serve.
In 2003, Dennis was ordained as a Rabbi. That same year he published his book, The Genius of Genesis: A Psychoanalyst and Rabbi Examines the First Book of the Bible. In addition to continuing to treat patients in his psychological practice, Dr. Shulman currently serves as the Associate Rabbi of Chavurah Beth Shalom, a synagogue in Alpine.
Dr. Shulman has lived in New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District for more than 25 years. He has been married to his wife, Pam, an obstetrician, for 33 years. They are proud parents of two adult daughters, Holly and Julie.
The Iraq War - We Need A Rapid And Responsible Withdrawal
I opposed the war in Iraq from its inception as ill-advised, even as I continue to admire greatly the heroism of our troops and appreciate fully their sacrifices.
We need to withdraw our troops rapidly and responsibly. We have lost more than 4,000 brave Americans, and tens of thousands more of our young men and women have suffered serious injuries.
The best estimate of the financial costs of the war is in excess of $3 trillion, money we can ill-afford as our infrastructure crumbles and our economy weakens.
Unlike Scott Garrett, I support the “GI Bill for the 21st Century.” Our heroes returning from Iraq and Afghanistan deserve comprehensive educational benefits – the GI Bill was an enormous success following previous wars, and our current troops deserve no less.
George Bush and Scott Garrett seem to believe we need to stay in Iraq indefinitely. I believe we need to get out.
Each and every day, our men and women risk life and limb to defend our freedoms. Therefore, as a member of Congress, I will never stop fighting to make sure we fulfill our obligations to those who have served our country.
Unlike Scott Garrett, I will consistently support our troops both in word and in deed by voting for the legislation they need and deserve.
Over forty percent of Reservists aged 19 to 35 lack health coverage under the military’s TRICARE program; and the tragedy at Walter Reed illustrates the need for major reform in our soldiers’ health care. I will unequivocally stand by legislation like the Funding for Veterans Health Care Act (H.R. 2514) that makes coverage a lifetime right for our men and women. I will also sponsor proposals to increase funding for programs that address PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) among our veterans.
Our troops deserve to return home and enjoy the freedoms that they have sacrificed so much to protect. The 2008 GI Bill overwhelmingly passed Congress, despite Scott Garrett’s opposition, and will greatly improve the educational opportunities available to our veterans. I will consistently support legislation like the GI Bill and the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (H.R. 5740), as well as programs like the Veterans Administration Home Loan Guaranty.
Scott Garrett has refused to treat our veterans with the respect that they have earned. When I’m in Congress, I will work to ensure that our men and women who have given so much to us receive the benefits that they need and deserve.
Being Strong While Being Smart
George W. Bush thrust our nation into an ill-conceived and mismanaged war in Iraq, and yet while Osama bin Laden is still at large, Scott Garrett continues to vote for more of the same. I will work to bring an end to the war in Iraq and to bring our focus back to what our focus always should have been — catching Osama bin Laden and fighting al Qaeda.
Here at home, we must implement all of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, especially granting Homeland Security assistance strictly on an assessment of risks and vulnerabilities so that the assistance goes to the places that need it the most. We must take sensible steps to effectively secure our borders and protect our ports.
Too Serious for Partisan Strife
America has a moral responsibility to address healthcare seriously. This is an issue so immense that we must resolve it together: Democrats must work together with Republicans to lower the costs of health care for individuals and businesses alike.
In Congress, I will champion children’s health care. The defeat of SCHIP was a shame—SCHIP was not a partisan issue, but a clear-cut values issue.
As a clergyman and a psychologist who works with families, I know something about bringing people together. In Congress, I will gather Republicans and Democrats alike to do something about a healthcare system in crisis. Improving access and lowering prices are two very important pieces to the national health care puzzle.
Medical research is a third essential slice of the pie. It is critical that we make investments in medical research to find cures that will alleviate suffering and help people live healthier and longer lives. As a health care professional and spiritual leader married to a physician, as well as a disabled American, I am a strong supporter of stem cell research.
Energy and the Environment
Increasing Energy Independence and Developing a Cleaner, Greener Economy
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our generation. It is an issue of national security, economic prosperity, and public health. It is imperative that we act. As part of my commitment to the safety and security of our nation, I will push for balanced energy conservation policies that increase our energy independence and create new jobs.
Democrats and Republicans came together this January to pass an energy bill that environmental groups like the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters supported as an incomplete but positive “first step” compromise to BEGIN to address the severity of the challenges we face.
Unfortunately, even that step was too far for Garrett, as the Bergen Record editorialized:
“Republican Rep. Scott Garrett of Wantage, who represents parts of Bergen and Passaic counties, was the lone New Jersey congressman to vote against the bill — one sign that the legislation was well within the mainstream, and that Garrett is not.”
Representative Scott Garrett has also voted to give huge tax breaks and increase taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil making record profits, rather than work to ease consumers’ pain at the pump.
I believe that our efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil do not have to come at the expense of our domestic resources. I, like every New Jersey representative except Scott Garrett, strongly oppose oil drilling off the New Jersey shore.
I commit myself to making the decisions that are best for New Jersey, and I pledge that I will never be so beholden to special interests as to risk despoiling our environment. I support efforts to research and develop cleaner renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass through the use of public-private funding mechanisms that make smart clean energy investments without straining our budgets or raising taxes.
New Jersey is in a strong position to attract environmentally-sound industry and build a green collar workforce. The creation of green jobs will bolster the economy, reduce pollution, and improve the quality of life for all citizens. As one of 23 states committed to increasing the use of renewable energy and one of six states committed to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, New Jersey is taking a leadership role in mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. Our members of Congress should be doing the same in Washington, DC.
We all have an opportunity and responsibility to protect our natural resources, preserve open spaces, and be better stewards of our land. I am committed to strengthening the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act and forging an environmental legacy with and for all citizens of New Jersey and for generations to come.
Political Office as Public Trust
I am running for office because I believe Congress should operate with conscience. My faith guides me to believe that Members of Congress have a sacred responsibility to serve only the public interest — not the special interests.
In turn, all those given the privilege to serve must be held to high standards of ethical behavior. I promise to abide by the highest practices of transparency, and I pledge to remain a concerned citizen first and foremost. I commit myself to never becoming a career politician who forgets where he came from. I will spend my time in Washington focused on serving the district and upholding our shared highest values.
Protecting Working Families
In Congress I intend to be a strong voice for American workers, their healthcare, their families, and their pensions.
I will strongly support the agenda of working men and women of organized labor.
I am proud to have earned the endorsement of Teamsters Joint Council 73. I believe that if we unite, Garrett can be defeated this November and we can replace an opponent of working families with a strong and consistent pro-labor voice.
- I wholeheartedly support the Employee Free Choice Act – Scott Garrett voted no.
- I firmly oppose all NAFTA style trade deals, including Peru. And my daughter, Holly Shulman, is an SEIU member and press officer for Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, so my commitment on this issue is not merely political, but familial.
- And you can count on me to always support Davis-Bacon, while Scott Garrett was the only New Jersey Member of Congress—Republican or Democrat—to call for a suspension of Davis-Bacon (the prevailing wage law) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Davis-Bacon Act must be protected from those who would seek to end it or weaken it by selectively applying it. The U.S. government should be paying prevailing wages and working with unions, not against them.
- I am a huge proponent of rebuilding America’s failing infrastructure – it is an issue of public safety, of economic competitiveness, and, frankly, of common sense.
- Having spent my high school years working in a toy factory, I will also prioritize workplace safety, whereas Scott Garrett is opposed to all government regulations on behalf of workers, children, or others vulnerable to corporate misdeeds.
- And of I course I would always be a vote in favor of increasing the minimum wage – but, somehow, Scott Garrett has found a way to consistently oppose that common sense legislation.
- On Social Security, I believe that our seniors should be able to rest their faith in a system put in place by FDR, not a system run by and for Wall Street.
- Finally, I support seriously addressing the nation’s healthcare crisis, and I remain astonished that Scott Garrett has voted to uphold each SCHIP veto by the President.
PRESS / NEWS
When Ideology Trumps Health…
SEPTEMBER 24TH, 2008
By Dennis Shulman
This past Friday’s Times featured an op-ed by Hillary Clinton and Cecile Richards highlighting the Bush administration’s newest ridiculous proposal: a rule that would require that any federally-funded health care entity certify that none of its employees are “required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable.” With over 60,000 health care facilities potentially affected, patients across the nation can - and will - be refused access to a number of critical services should this become law.
There is, of course, the obvious: emergency contraception, birth control pills, abortions even in the case of rape or incest…. But the proposal, which will cost taxpayers $44.5 million a year, extends much further, as providers are also allowed to refuse to participate in unspecified “other medical procedures” that they may find objectionable. Clinton and Richards rightly bring up the point that this opens the door for health care professionals to deny service in a variety of frightening cases:
Many circumstances unrelated to reproductive health could also fall under the umbrella of “other medical procedures.” Could physicians object to helping patients whose sexual orientation they find objectionable? Could a receptionist refuse to book an appointment for an H.I.V. test? What about an emergency room doctor who wishes to deny emergency contraception to a rape victim? Or a pharmacist who prefers not to refill a birth control prescription?
Bush and his cronies at the Department of Health and Human Services argue that they want to protect providers’ consciences… that this is about morality and values.
Well, Mr. President, I agree with you – this is about morality and values. It’s about letting your ideology trump pragmatism and morality. It’s about valuing your personal dogma over a person’s health and safety.
It’s this sort of doctrinaire thinking that has left me (and countless other Americans) to watch in utter outrage over the past eight years as Bush has led our country horrifically astray and his rubber-stamps, like my opponent Scott Garrett, have marched in lockstep right there next to him. As a member of Congress, I will never place ideology above the pragmatic and moral policies we need to ensure a person’s wellbeing and move our nation forward.
Tomorrow marks the last day in the proposal’s comment period; I urge you all to tell Bush to stop playing political football with countless Americans’ health and safety.
Star-Ledger: 5th District one of nation’s ‘emerging’ contests
JULY 27TH, 2008
GOP fundraising shows concern for possible upset, Democrats say
Sunday, July 27, 2008 BY JIM LOCKWOOD | Star-Ledger Staff
In the race for New Jersey’s 5th District seat in the House of Representatives, incumbent Scott Gar rett maintains a fundraising lead and remains a favorite to beat Democratic challenger Dennis Shulman.
The gap is not insurmountable, Shulman’s camp says, and the race has been labeled by the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as one of 20 “emerging” contests in the nation where Democrats are hoping for upsets.
Garrett, 49, noted in a recent fundraising letter that he faces a tougher race against Shulman, 58, than his prior solid victories over Democratic challengers in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
The missive carried a more- than-usual “sense of urgency” found in typical fundraising letters and a tone of concern not seen in his prior campaigns, said Jeff Hauser, Shulman’s campaign manager.
“Customarily, incumbents don’t even mention opponents” if their re-election appears secure, Hauser said.
Garrett campaign manager Amanda Gasperino disputed that assessment and said Garrett takes every election seriously.
“A fundraiser letter is something that every campaign uses, it’s nothing new,” Gasperino said. “It was a well-written letter to continue to motivate folks to continue to support Scott Garrett. It wasn’t to say we were worried. We are going to actively campaign as we have done every year.”
The district, which includes Warren County, most of Sussex County, the northern half of Ber gen County and part of Passaic County, tends to give the GOP big pluralities at the polls, but most voters are in moderate-leaning Ber gen County. Garrett is a resident of Wantage in Sussex County and Shulman, lives in Demarest in Ber gen County.
A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “emerging” race is not as competitive as one deemed a “red to blue” race, in which more funds and effort would be allotted to try to defeat a GOP candidate. Yet, a month after the June primary, the campaign committee ran radio ads during the July 4 weekend against Garrett, who is known as New Jersey’s most-conservative member of Congress.
“Dennis Shulman has put together a very strong campaign, his values are in line with the district, and he has an incredible personal story,” said committee spokeswoman Carrie James.
New Jersey state GOP chairman Tom Wilson said of the Democratic committee’s support: “It’s the same line they give every Democratic candidate. ‘Oh yeah, he’s on our radar screen.’ I don’t think we’ve seen any evidence of DCCC money coming in to help Shul man.”
According to the candidates’ most-recent Federal Election Commission reports:
Garrett raised $992,251, disbursed $534,292 and had $649,003 on hand.
Shulman raised $585,486, spent $327,105, and had $258,381 left. Nearly 10 percent, or $54,000, has come out of his own pocket, including a $35,000 personal loan. Garrett has not contributed any money to his campaign.
Both candidates raised most of their funds from individual contributions. Of Garrett’s funds, $593,182, or 60 percent, came from individuals. Shulman’s $455,209 in individual contributions represented 78 percent of his funds.
Garrett received $389,482 in PAC donations, which accounted for 39 percent of his funds; Shul man received $40,000 from PACs, or 7 percent.
A rabbi and psychologist, Shul man has generated an outside buzz the Democrats in the three prior races did not. That Shulman, who has been blind since childhood, would become the first rabbi in Congress if elected has been noted in Time and The New Yorker.
“Anyone who accomplished what he has with his life story is clearly a problem solver,” Hauser said. “We think that’s a sharp contrast with Scott Garrett, who has an ideology-first approach.”
Gasperino countered, “Everyone knows Congressman Garrett will do what is best for the Fifth District.” As for Shulman getting mentioned in national magazines, she said, “It’s nothing different that I know of in the past campaigns.”
Wilson said the articles were due to Shulman’s “very unique personal nature. It’s not often you find a blind rabbi running for Congress. It’s kind of an anomaly.”
Nevertheless, Shulman faces “some cold hard facts,” Wilson said. “It is a Republican district, and even in the nightmare (for Republicans) landslide year of 2006 (for Democrats), Scott Garrett bested his opponent by double digits. Scott Garrett is an incredibly strong incumbent. They talk about it all the time — ‘he’s out-of-step with the district’ — well, he’s not. I predict he’ll win again by double- digits.”
Dennis Shulman Featured by Time
JULY 18TH, 2008
A Rabbi in Congress?
By Adam Goodman / July 18, 2008
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%).
GOP Congressman Scott Garrett surprised by own victory
Posted Nov 5, 2008 By Jim Lockwood/The Star-Ledger / Tim Farrell/The Star-Ledger
This time, U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett, (R-5th Dist.) surprised even himself. As the reddest of Republicans in one of the bluest of states, Garrett, 49, of Wantage, Sussex County, has made a political career out of defying conventional wisdom and confounding critics and opponents. Known as the most-conservative congressman in New Jersey - and the Northeast - Garrett defeated three prior Democrats by double-digit margins, but this year faced his toughest race against Democrat Dennis Shulman, 58, a psychologist and rabbi from Bergen County.
With a surge of Democratic voter registrations in the district, expected coattails from an Obama wave, and anti-Bush/GOP-incumbent sentiment running high over the economy, Shulman was poised for a close race, if not an upset. Or so it seemed.
Garrett defeated Shulman 57 percent to 42 percent, with Green Party candidate Ed Fanning rounding out the field. "Fifty-seven (percent)?" a shocked Garrett told a crowd of supporters Tuesday at his victory party when results flashed on a television. He noted it was a bigger win than his victory in 2006, a bad year for Republicans when Democrats regained control of Congress.
"I thought it (the Shulman race) would be closer. 2006 was a tough climate. We thought that was as hard as it gets."
In his concession speech in Paramus, Shulman said the race was never about the two candidates, but rather issues on which they disagreed. "This election was all about the corruption that pervades Washington," Shulman said. "A Washington where Garrett and others take thousands of dollars from industries they are charged to oversee. There's something really wrong about that. We lost the election but we were right. We were right to call Garrett out on that."
Garrett supporters decried Shulman's attacks on Garrett as "corrupt." "Scott Garrett has always represented the people of the 5th District with the utmost uncompromising integrity," said New Jersey State Assemblyman Gary Chiusano, (R-24). The district includes Warren County and parts of Bergen, Passaic and Sussex counties.
Garrett handily won each county, and tallied 164,635 votes to Shulman's 123,297. Garrett won Sussex by a 2-1 ratio, or 31,699 votes for Garrett to 16,073 for Shulman. In Warren County, Garrett had 27,503 votes and Shulman had 16,963 votes. Passaic County gave 14,331 votes to Garrett and 10,325 votes to Shulman.
Shulman needed to carry Bergen big to win, but Garrett polled 91,102 votes there and Shulman trailed with 79,936 votes. Republicans said Garrett's big win cements his career in the House, because the national Democrats presumably would be wary of targeting Garrett in the future. The national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made the Shulman campaign a priority as one of its Red to Blue races, where a GOP incumbent was seen as vulnerable.
However, that designation coming in October was too-little-too-late, and delivered only $83,000 to Shulman, which was not enough to withstand Garrett's final flurry, said Shulman campaign manager Jeff Hauser. In the final three weeks of the race, for every $1 Shulman spent, Garrett spent $2.50, Hauser said. Overall, Shulman raised about $1 million, but had to dip into his own pocket, while Garrett stayed ahead with $1.4 million. "We got outspent," Hauser said. "It's a tough district. We needed resources to get out the message that Scott Garrett isn't a mainstream Republican."
Shulman now will return to his practice but remain an active Democrat, Hauser said.