Ex-Burlington County Freeholder Gibbs Running for Andy Kim’s Seat in Congress

By Rick Mellerup | Nov 27, 2019
Source: Facebook Kate Gibbs

Burlington County —

 

A second Republican candidate has announced she is running for a chance to square off against Democratic incumbent Andy Kim in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District race in 2020.

Kate Gibbs tossed her hat into the ring on Nov. 20. Gibbs, 33, served as a Burlington County freeholder from 2016 through 2018, the youngest female freeholder in the state at that time. She was considered a rising Republican star in the Garden State.

Her star was hit by a comet in the 2018 elections. Anti-Trump sentiment not only saw Kim elected but saw Gibbs and fellow GOP Freeholder Linda Hughes defeated, giving Democrats majority control of Burlington County’s government for the first time in four decades.

But the Gibbs campaign says had she been the GOP candidate for the 3rd District seat instead of two-term Congressman Tom MacArthur the seat would have remained in Republican hands.

“Congressman MacArthur’s narrow 2018 loss was an outlier,” it says on her Kate for Congress website. “In 2016 President Trump won NJ-03 by 6%; in 2017, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno won NJ-03 by 5%; and in 2018, US Senate candidate Bob Hugin won NJ-03 by 9%.

“That same year, 2018, Kate Gibbs received 46% of the vote in the Burlington County portion of NJ-03, while Congressman MacArthur received just shy of 40%. Had the Congressman won the same 46% as Gibbs, he would have been re-elected.”

Before she can square off against Kim, Gibbs will first have to defeat Barnegat Township Deputy Mayor John J. Novak, 61, who had previously declared himself a candidate for the Republican nomination. Gibb’s announcement will set off yet another round of Burlington County vs. Ocean County infighting in the GOP.

There are 53 municipalities in the 3rd District, with 36 of them located in Burlington while 17, including half of Stafford Township and all of Barnegat Township, can be found in Ocean. Republican control of Ocean County is strong – MacArthur crushed Kim by a 78,221 to 47,564 margin in Ocean County. But that couldn’t make up MacArthur’s deficit in the more blue-tinged Burlington County and he lost by 3,973 votes.

Burlington County has more 3rd District voters than Ocean County. And politicians know a Republican will probably win in Ocean County no matter who the candidate, what the office, or what town the candidate comes from. So the Republican nomination for the 3rd District seat almost always goes to a Burlington County candidate.

From 1992 through 2014 all of the district’s Republican candidates – Jim Saxton, Chris Myers and John Runyan – came from Burlington County. Ocean County’s MacArthur broke through in 2014, but a principal reason he earned the GOP nomination was that he was a millionaire who could, to a large degree, self-fund his campaign.

That isn’t true for Novak. True, Gibbs isn’t independently wealthy either, but recent history shows she’ll probably have the edge for the nomination thanks to Burlington County’s larger 3rd District voter base.

Unless, of course, more candidates enter the race. And there’s plenty of time for more to emerge considering they have until March 30, 2020 to file to run.

— Rick Mellerup

 

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