By Max Pizarro | July 16th, 2010 - 12:04pm
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Peter DeStefano doesn't care if his 3rd Congressional District independent Tea Party candidacy musses the hair of Republican Jon Runyan.

"I've lost faith in the Republicans," announced DeStefano, who says he recently switched from GOP to independent.

"I lost faith when I watched Justin Murphy (the independent Republican candidate in the June 8th Primary) get smeared by a dirty football player."

The remark is a swipe at Runyan, retired from the National Football League as an offensive lineman.

"He hung up his helmet and cleats and and said, 'I think I'll become a politician,'" said DeStefano, a self-professed fierce Reagan Republican who claims he was offended by Runyan's lack of knowledge on conservative issues at a Tea Party event during the primary.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in South Jersey, the small businessman reserves his most severe ire for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who he sees as a boss for U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill), and an utterly unsalvagable Democratic Party.

"I despise Nancy Pelosi, she forgot about the Constitution," said DeStefano. "We have a Pelosi Democrat in Adler and a Rockefeller Republican in Runyan. Me, I'm just a regular Joe, an average guy. I frame pictures for a living. I'm the framer that's going to save the framework of the Constitution.

"The way I look at this, I'm running a grassroots campaign - not much money, no - no, no money, not a lot of money right now, my son's helping me with social networking - we just got our social networking in place. A lot of people are encouraging me, telling me to run because of the place I have in the community. Everyone knows me. People are fed up with politicians, so it's the perfect storm for a candidate like me. I'm already at 12% in Adler's poll."

Ultra-conservative. Believes in the Bible. Pro-life.

Meanwhile, "To me, you put blue and red together and you get purple. Jon Runyan's a purple Republican," DeStefano said.

For all the freewheeling Gerry Cooney-style rhetoric, he knows the first question insiders are going to punch him with is the following: doesn't he think his hard-right campaign will hurt Runyan and help his arch enemies Pelosi and Adler?

"I'm working for myself," DeStefano said. "People are discrediting me. Let them think what they want to think. The voters will decide.

"I challenged Mr. Runyan to a debate at a Tea Party event," he added. "I tried to get in on the Michael Smerconish debate. I ended up listening and taking notes at home. I want to get in there and talk about what's happening in New Jersey. I'm a Steve Lonegan candidate. He's the real deal. I pattern myself on him."

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