The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has marked the second congressional district as one of its top targets, but it’s not focused on flipping New Jersey’s only other Republican-held House seat.
A memo sent out by the DCCC Thursday lists Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s (R-Dennis) district as one of the organization’s top targets in its effort to expand its House majority there.
“Republicans face a significant challenge holding onto New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, and Congressman Jefferson Van Drew’s party switch does not improve their chances in November. Beyond the vulnerabilities highlighted in his own internal polling, Van Drew’s party switch further weakened him as a candidate. Van Drew’s ability to win a primary as a questionable Republican, but an unquestionable ‘traitor,’ remains uncertain.”
The fourth district, which is represented by Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton), is not mentioned in the memo.
Currently, five Democrats — political science professor Brigid Harrison, former teacher Amy Kennedy, Atlantic County Freeholder Ashley Bennett, West Cape May Commissioner John Francis III and William Cunningham, a former Cory Booker staffer — are seeking the nod to run in the second.
Of those five, Harrison has emerged as an early leader, winning endorsements from six of the districts eight Democratic county chairs and Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman and Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp have yet to endorse a candidate.
Three Republicans are fielding primary challenges to Van Drew, though the incumbent has the support of the White House and a growing number of Republican leaders in his race against David Richter, Brian Fitzherbert and Robert Patterson.
Four Democrats are running to challenge Smith. Stephanie Schmid leads that pack, which also includes David Applefield, Christine Conforti and Jim Keady, though her lead in terms of party support isn’t as stark as Harrison’s.