The Vas campaign claimed that their polling numbers show Vas pulling ahead of Sires among 13th District congressional voters.
With a handful of supporters, Vas came to once again publicly ask Sires for a debate and to challenge him on Sires' criticism of Vas in a series of ads.
The two men are vying in the Democratic primary in June, and the winner will face off against a Republican for the 13th District Congressional seat in November. That seat was left open when Rep. Robert Menendez ascended to the U.S. Senate earlier this year.
The interior of Sires' headquarters seemed to be empty at 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, and someone attempted to disburse the group that congregated in front, but Vas was ultimately given time to speak.
Vas responds to Sires' advertising
A recent slew of negative ads from the Sires campaign have criticized Vas for his connections to Joseph Trinidad, whom the ads say was accused in a 2004 child molestation case involving a 14-year-old girl. Sires' mailers said that Vas asked for leniency from a Morristown judge in the case.
The mailers have also accused Vas of helping bail out a convicted heroin dealer from jail in Camden, only for her to be picked up again less than a year later in a federal sting operation.
The mailers are Sires' response to months of Vas' advertising that had enabled Vas to come from behind in the recognition polls.
Last week, Vas denied Sires' claims.
"The charge that I aided a drug dealer is an outright lie and has been proven one," said Vas on Wednesday of the ads. "This is the classic reaction of a panicked political boss."
However, according to Sires' spokesperson Julie Roginsky, the claims that Vas help to bail out the dealer were reported in articles in the Newark Star Ledger in 1995.
According to an internet poll conducted by Global Strategy Group, which was paid for by the Vas team, of 400 likely voters, it showed Vas about 2 percent ahead as compared to their October poll which showed Sires ahead by 8 percent.
"Its not simply our poll, its every poll that has shown that this is a close contest," claimed Vas. "First they tried to bully me out, then they tried to bribe me out, and now they are trying to smear me out."
Vas challenged Sires to debate the issues with him.
Albio, where are you?
"I have called for two publicly televised debates," Vas said. "Albio, it's time to stop hiding. I will just quote Albio's own record, in his own words, and he'll feel like it's hell."
He added, "He's hidden from all of the opportunities he has had to join me at a public forum, including non-profit organizations, editorial [functions]. I even agreed to have the Hudson County Democratic Organization conduct the first debate."
Roginsky said that Sires and Vas did have a televised debate in early May which was moderated by Michael Aron of New Jersey Network; however, New Jersey Network said Thursday that the pair were guests on Aron's show, but it was not a formal debate.
Vas said, "I have spent this entire campaign talking about the issues, and this is what a boss-run machine does; they hide and they throw mud," said Vas.
"We'll debate him if we get a legitimate organization, like NJN," said Roginsky.
His own mud
Vas recently has made his own counterclaims against Sires, including referencing Sires' involvement with Rene Abreu, the Guttenberg businessman who was sentenced to over seven years in federal prison for real estate development schemes and bank fraud.
Vas noted that Abreu donated money to Sires. According to Roginsky, the mayor has never denied this.
"He has never denied that Rene Abreu gave him money," said Roginsky. "Mayor Sires feels that what Rene Abreu did was wrong and he's paying for it now, but it has nothing to do with him."
Vas said, "It's been one lie after another. I want [Sires] to publicly speak about those statements and the issues that are important to the voters. He has cynically taken for granted the voters of this district. I'm calling him out."