With only days to go before Tuesday’s primary in New Jersey, the campaign of Bret Schundler, a Republican candidate for governor, has yanked a doctored photo from its website, a photo which once featured Democrat Howard Dean.

The original photo of Dean, who is now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was taken during his own campaign for president at a rally in Falls Church, Va.

But in the altered version, Dean was erased out and replaced with Schundler in a promotion for campaign gear. Hats and signs were also changed digitally.

“I think it’s pathetic that he couldn’t get a group of his own enthusiastic young people,” Laura Reznick, secretary of American University’s College Democrats chapter, told the Bergen Record. “There are plenty of people my age who are, sadly enough, Republican.”

The website Politicsnj.com was first to learn of the photographic sleight of hand, and posted it under the headline “Separated At Birth? Bret Schundler and Howard Dean.”

It turns out both Dean and Schundler used the same Washington, D.C.-based marketing-communications firm, Big Fish.

Tom Frank, creative director at Big Fish, said a junior staffer was responsible for the retouched photo, and Schundler had no knowledge of it. The company has already issued a written apology to the Republican.

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