Restricting expanded Garrett's longtime Republican-leaning district to include Democratic strongholds of Hackensack and most of Teaneck. Despite being vastly out-fundraised, Gussen maintained the district was winnable with support from Bergen votes.
The two candidates presented starkly different platforms, but Garrett avoided confronting Gussen directly in the campaign. Instead, the Republican congressman's attacks focused on President Obama.
Gussen slammed Garrett for his conservative positions on women's health issues and opposition of the Affordable Care Act.
He accused Garrett of being out of touch with local communities in the 5th district and attended campaign events in the district's more rural areas.
“Year after year, his ideological pursuit of a smaller government has hurt the families of New Jersey,” Gussen said in a debated broadcasted by WRNJ radio.
Garrett, who was born in Englewood and has held the congressional seat since 2002, has criticized federal government overspending but noted his support of $10 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency when Sandy became a campaign issue.
The Wantage Republican is known as the state's most conservative House member and reportedly likely to take Rep. Paul Ryan's spot as chairman of the House Budget Committee, if Ryan becomes vice president.