Millionaire Jumps Into 2nd District Congressional Race

Third Republican to Challenge Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew
By Rick Mellerup | Aug 21, 2019

Surf City — A third Republican has announced he will run for the GOP nomination to try to take Democrat Jeff Van Drew’s 2nd New Jersey Congressional District seat in 2020.Millionaire David Richter, the former CEO of the global construction management firm Hill International, filed his paperwork with the U.S. Federal Election Commission on Aug. 12.

“Jeff Van Drew has completely failed South Jersey voters,” said Richter in announcing his run. “He spent a decade supporting the Democratic majority in the state Legislature and making New Jersey one of the highest-taxed and most anti-business states in the country. Now, after running as a conservative Democrat, Van Drew has voted in Washington with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nearly 90% of the time. We need a real conservative in Congress who will work hard for smaller government, lower taxes and secure borders, and who will fight to protect, not undermine, our constitutional rights.”

The lanes in the Republican Primary, which will be held on June 2, 2020, are filling up quickly.

Robert (Bob) Patterson, 65, is driving in the far-right lane, serving in the administration of President Donald Trump as a senior adviser and acting associate commissioner of the Social Security Administration. One of his writings suggested condom use robs a woman of “remarkable” chemicals found in semen and that “semen-exposed women” perform better on concentration and cognitive tasks.

Patterson, though, may not have that lane all to himself. Seth Grossman, who ran against Van Drew in 2016 and captured 45.2 percent of the vote despite being heavily outspent, could make another run.

Brian Fitzherbert, 30, is in the fresh-face lane, saying, “South Jersey needs new leadership to address the growing and dynamic challenges. It is time a fresh candidate with new ideas tackles the issues facing the 2nd District, not the politicians of yesterday.”

Fitzherbert has put together a campaign team filled with experienced political operatives and has been busy collecting endorsements from the likes of former 1st Legislative District Assemblyman and Cumberland County Freeholder Sam Fiocchi, Northfield Mayor Erland Chau and Linwood Mayor Richard L. DePamphilis.

Richter, an engineer, lawyer and businessman, spent 22 years at Hill International, starting as the firm’s general counsel, advancing to chief operating officer and finally to chief executive officer. He grew the company from a private firm with fewer than 300 employees to a New York Stock Exchange-listed public company with more than 4,300 employees. Married for 20 years and the father of four daughters, he earned two bachelor’s degrees from University of Pennsylvania and master’s degrees from both Harvard and Oxford.

Still, the credential that may most attract the support of Republican leaders in the 2nd District, which includes all or part of Salem, Cumberland, Cape May, Atlantic, Gloucester, Camden, Burlington and Ocean counties, is his wealth. Being able to at least partially self-fund a campaign is definitely a plus for any potential candidate in an era when the bill for House campaigns can easily run millions of dollars.

The field is still open for an experienced politician with a long – and winning – elective career, proof that he or she can run a solid campaign and attract voters.

Rick Mellerup

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