Amy Kennedy, a former public school teacher and wife of ex-Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-Rhode Island), is actively exploring a run for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd district.
“I have supported Congressman Jeff Van Drew in the past, but he has clearly lost his way,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Today I am launching an exploratory committee to consider a run for the 2nd Congressional District of New Jersey.”
Van Drew is switching parties and is expected to seek re-election as a Republican next year after his opposition to the impeachment of President Donald Trump made him vulnerable in a Democratic primary.
“As a mother of five and a former public school teacher for thirteen years, running for office was not in my life plan, but Congressman Van Drew’s recent actions, including switching parties, proves that he is no longer putting the needs of the district first,” Kennedy said.
She began reaching out to Democratic county chairmen today, several have confirmed.
Kennedy’s interest in is real, a number of Democratic leaders said today, and she could emerge as a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination to run against Van Drew or another Republican in the general election.
The ex-8th grade social studies teacher and mental health advocate is viewed as a candidate who could potentially bridge the gap between progressives and old guard Democrats who appear united in dealing Van Drew a loss.
Political Science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison announced today that she would seek the Democratic nomination. West Cape May Commissioner John Francis III told the New Jersey Globe that he was running and would make a formal announcement within the next two weeks.
Kennedy has strong ties to Atlantic County. Her father, Jerry Savell, served as an Atlantic County freeholder and a councilman in both Pleasantville and Absecon.
Patrick Kennedy represented Rhode Island in Congress for fourteen years before retiring in 2010. A former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he moved to Brigantine in 2011 following his engagement.
“Our nation is in crisis. Our political system is in crisis. Our environment is in crisis. We have serious unaddressed needs in our schools and in our mental health and addiction system,” Kennedy said. “Our economy, though strong, is not meeting the needs of the underserved and middle class. We need real leadership to overcome these challenges.”
She cited her service on the Board of Directors for Mental Health America and as the Education Director of The Kennedy Forum.
“As a third-generation Atlantic County resident, I’m compelled to explore if my community wants me to do more by serving in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Kennedy said.
InsiderNJ first reported Kennedy’s interest in the race.