A tenuous truce between Democratic congressional candidates in the second district brought on by President Donald Trump’s visit to New Jersey met its end Thursday.
Brigid Harrison on Thursday put out a press release urging electoral reforms that cited her primary opponents’ pursuit of Atlantic County Democrats’ party line.
“The right of the people to freely and fairly decide who will represent their interests is the foundation upon which our democracy rests,” Harrison said. “But Washington DC’s culture of corruption is eating away at that foundation, and as a member of Congress from New Jersey’s second congressional district, I will prioritize several measures that will take power away from the rich and well-connected and return it to where it belongs — in the hands of the people.”
Though her statement was comprised mainly of reforms well-regarded among Democratic circles — like overturning Citizens United, bolstering the Federal Election Commission and requiring donor disclosure from super PACS — it also jabbed Amy Kennedy and Atlantic County Freeholder Ashley Bennett for seeking the organizational line in Atlantic County.
Kennedy didn’t take the stab lying down.
“Brigid Harrison is in no position to talk about clean elections. From the day Brigid decided to run, she worked behind the scenes with political insiders and party bosses to rig endorsements and the entire primary process in her favor,” Kennedy campaign manager Josh Roesch said. “If Brigid really wants this campaign to be about election reform, we look forward to her embracing an open and transparent process with a fair set of rules for local party endorsements and supporting reforms like rejecting money from corporate PACs and other special interests.”
Senate President Steve Sweeney and Democratic chairs in six of the second congressional district’s eight counties endorsed Harrison shortly after Rep. Jeff Van Drew defected to the Republican party last year, a move that the party’s progressive wing has slammed as anti-democratic.
Atlantic and Ocean Counties have yet to award their lines.
Bennett, Kennedy, Will Cunningham, John Francis III and Robert Turkavage signed a pledge to reject party lines, though that agreement has all but fallen apart, as only Francis, a West Cape May commissioner is sticking to it.
The other five, Harrison included, are competing for the two remaining lines
Harrison’s campaign had its own parting jab.
“My response is just two words — Craig Callaway,” said Matthew Frankel, a senior adviser on Harrison’s campaign.
Callaway is a former Atlantic City council president who effectively controls the city’s Democratic Municipal Committee, which endorsed Kennedy last month.
This story was updated with comment from Frankel at 8:53 p.m.