Possible 2020 GOP Opponent to Andy Kim Emerging

Congressman Expects National GOP, PACs to Spend Much Against Him
By Rick Mellerup | Jul 31, 2019

Southern Ocean County —

Congressman Andy Kim, who represents New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District that includes the western half of Stafford Township and all of Barnegat Township, knows he will face a tough re-election race in 2020.

The freshman Democratic representative had a tough race in 2018, defeating incumbent Republican Tom MacArthur by only a 153,473 to 149,500 margin. Indeed, he had to wait several days before MacArthur conceded.

Kim is aware his district has been rated a toss-up by the Cook Political Report, and for good reason. The 3rd, which consists of 36 Burlington County and 17 Ocean County municipalities, had been in Republican hands from 1993 through 2019 save for 2009 through 2011 when the late Democrat John Adler held the seat.

The congressman is also aware that a dirty trick campaign may be in the offing.

“This week, Republicans started reaching out to voters in New Jersey’s Third District – with anonymous phone calls attempting to persuade them that I should not be trusted. They know my seat is a toss-up, and they are willing to do almost anything to try and win it back,” Kim said in an email to supporters.

“I heard from supporters that these phone calls were spreading lies and misinforming constituents about me and my record in Washington. We need to fight back.

“I only won this race by a few thousand votes last year, and the truth is we will face a barrage of well-funded attacks like this from the GOP and special interests from now until Election Day in 2020.”

Kim is buoyed by the fact that he raised over $1.1 million in the first six months of 2019. But he expects the GOP and its allies will likely invest heavily in the 2020 3rd District race.

“The Congressional Leadership Fund, Paul Ryan’s Super PAC, has already raised almost $160 million this year,” wrote his campaign.

“The National Republican Congressional Committee (the NRCC), who’s been attacking Andy at every turn, has raised another $35 million.

“These groups (and others) spent $4.6 million campaigning against Andy in 2018 and we know they’re gearing up to spend millions of dollars on ads lying about Andy’s record.”

A possible opponent has emerged. Former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs is exploring a bid for the GOP nomination, meeting with the National Republican Congressional Committee this week. She’s also earned praise from Burlington County Republican Chairman Sean Earlen.

Gibbs, now 33, was the youngest female freeholder in the Garden State when she was elected in 2015. But she lost badly in 2018, falling to Democrat George Youngkin by 9,550 votes despite the fact her opponent had suspended his campaign in late September after it was revealed his former wife had accused him of choking her in 2006 and that another woman had accused him of stalking in 2004. Youngkin’s name remained on the ballot though. He resigned on his second day in office, allowing the Burlington County Board of Freeholders, controlled by Democrats, to name a replacement.

So why would Republicans consider Gibbs a strong candidate? Well, she’s a woman, a rare thing in the GOP House caucus. And she’s young. And her supporters say her defeat was caused by a Democrat whirlwind in 2018, with Dems taking control of the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders for the first time in decades.

Meanwhile, Kim has been keeping in touch with people in his district, sticking to his promise to hold frequent town hall meetings. A town hall was scheduled to be held in Riverside, Burlington County on July 30. It would be Kim’s eighth since taking office. He plans three more during the House’s August recess, alternating, as usual, between Burlington and Ocean County.

MacArthur shied away from town halls in the 2018 campaign season after running into some vocally tough crowds. Kim jumped at the opportunity to criticize his opponent for not meeting with the public, and MacArthur’s decision may have played a part in his downfall.

Rick Mellerup

rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

 

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