By Jim Ellis
July 7, 2020 — The postponed New Jersey primary is today, and though the US Senate race is not competitive, as incumbent and former presidential candidate Cory Booker (D) is a prohibitive favorite for re-election, the US House races feature several interesting campaigns.In the 2nd District, which begins at the southernmost tip of the state and travels northeast through Atlantic City before encompassing most of the New Jersey southern sector, Democrat turned Republican freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis Township) faces trade association executive Bob Patterson in the GOP primary.
Patterson ran in the 1st District in 2016, challenging Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden City) and lost in a predictable landslide, 60-37 percent. The first primary in a party-switchers new electoral home is always the toughest, but Rep. Van Drew appears well positioned to cruise to a nomination victory tonight.
On the Democratic side, Amy Kennedy, wife of former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, looks to have the inside track in today’s primary. Her top competition is college professor Brigid Callahan Harrison.
Just to the north of the Van Drew seat, freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown) will have his hands full in his first re-election. Clearly, he is readying for the task as he is reporting raising over $4.1 million through the June 17 pre-primary report. He is unopposed in the Democratic primary today.
Rep. Kim will face either venture capitalist David Richter or former Burlington County freeholder Kate Gibbs. The latter was defeated for re-election in her last campaign. Richter has the financial edge and would likely be Kim’s stronger general election opponent. This race will likely move into the toss-up realm.
Three Democrats are vying for the opportunity of challenging veteran Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) in the Trenton area seat. Smith, who will likely rank third in the next Congress on the House seniority list having been first elected in 1980, was the only New Jersey Republican to survive the 2018 Democratic blue wave. He is in stronger political position heading into this election.
Two-term Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) has been a fundraising machine since coming to Congress. In this cycle, he leads the entire delegation in fundraising with $5.25 million raised on the June 17 pre-primary report. From his political left is Democratic challenger Arati Kreibich, a neuroscientist and Glen Rock City councilwoman who enjoys support from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Justice Democrats’ member Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
It is highly unlikely the well-prepared Rep. Gottheimer will fall the way of Rep. Scott Tipton (R) in his Colorado surprise upset last week. Dr. Kreibich has some political credibility, but she is not a particularly strong contender against the energetic Rep. Gottheimer. Four Republicans are in the race for their party’s nomination in a district that could still remain with the GOP. The two-term incumbent is again the clear favorite to hold his seat this year both tonight and in the general election. He is expected to score a strong re-election percentage tonight and in November.
State Senate Minority Leader and former congressional and US Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. is expected to easily win the 7th District Republican nomination tonight. He will then begin what may well become a toss-up challenge race against freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill).
Veteran Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) is defending his position against Democratic opposition today. Attorney Hector Oseguera and retired Navy SEAL, Will Sheehan, are challenging the incumbent for the party nomination in what is a safely Democratic seat. Neither challenger has raised much in terms of campaign resources, so Sires is clearly favored to win again tonight.
The 11th District is already set for a competitive race between freshman Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), who won this traditionally Republican seat in 2018, and former congressional staff member Rosemary Becchi who was originally running in the 7th District. Both are unopposed for their respective party nominations tonight. Rep. Sherrill is again demonstrating strong fundraising prowess, as he has pulled in more than $4 million for her re-election campaign. Becchi is approaching $1 million in campaign receipts.
The New Jersey primary could be another that sees a long post-election counting period. All Democrats and Republicans were mailed primary ballots. Unaffiliated voters received absentee ballot request forms since they can choose the primary in which to participate.
Delaware voters are also going to the polls for their stand-alone presidential primary that only has delegate selection meaning as both presidential nominations are already clinched. The Delaware state primary will be the last in the 2020 national nomination cycle, scheduled for Sept. 15.