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Rep. Andy Kim. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Cook Political Report moves NJ-3 to Likely Democratic

Wasserman says Kim is still only vulnerable in a ‘truly terrible scenario’ for Dems

By Joey Fox, April 20 2022 12:43 pm

The Cook Political Report, one of the country’s most influential and well-regarded qualitative election forecasters, shifted its rating for New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic this morning, an indication that Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) could be in some electoral trouble this November.

Dave Wasserman, Cook’s House analyst, said that Republicans are on the upswing in the Burlington County-based district, though he noted it would only be competitive in a “truly terrible scenario” for New Jersey Democrats.

“Democrats believe this race was put to bed when New Jersey’s redistricting commission selected their map that removes retiree-heavy Ocean County from Kim’s 3rd CD, taking it from Trump +1 to Biden +14,” Wasserman wrote. “But GOP yacht builder and former punk rocker Robert Healey hasn’t shrunk away, banking $755,000 as of the end of March.”

Kim, who narrowly unseated Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) in 2018 and strongly outran the top of the ticket to win re-election in 2020, is sitting on a $3.8 million warchest and faces only minor primary opposition this June. Healey, his most likely opponent, has been touted by national Republicans but still has to get past Atilis gym owner Ian Smith in the Republican primary.

Shortly after Cook made its ratings change, the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) released a brief statement highlighting Kim’s vulnerability – though curiously, they did so by citing a parallel ratings change on Elections Daily, a less-well-known forecasting publication. 

“Andy Kim is going to meet the consequences of his actions this November when New Jerseyans fire him for sticking them with Democrats’ failed agenda,” NRCC spokesperson Samantha Bullock said.

The ratings change means that three of New Jersey’s 12 congressional seats are considered at least slightly competitive by the Cook Political Report; the 5th district, held by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), is also rated Likely Democratic, while Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes)’s bid for re-election against former Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield) in the 7th district is rated Lean Republican.

Another House forecast by The University of Virginia Center for Politics has listed the 3rd district in the Likely Democratic category since the new lines were finalized, and puts Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair)’s 11th district in the same category. Neither forecaster currently rates Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) in the 6th district or Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) in the 2nd district as vulnerable.

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