Glen Rock councilwoman Arati Kreibich is raising money for her Democratic primary challenge against Rep. Josh Gottheimer by claims of gender-related hurdles.
“I’m running for Congress because women are tired of being told to wait our turn,” Kreibich said in a fundraising e-mail. “The time for us to wait our turn is over.”
While Kreibich has a valid claim in most parts of New Jersey, it’s a tougher sell to 5th district voters that recall being represented for 22 years by Marge Roukema.
For 20 of her 22 years in Congress, Roukema was the only woman in the New Jersey congressional delegation.
Roukema was a former Ridgewood school board member that challenged Rep. Andrew Maguire (D-Ridgewood) in 1978, lost, and then beat him in 1980.
When she ran for the first time, she had to face a well-known name in the Republican primary: Joseph Woodcock (R-Cliffside Park), who served 12 years as an assemblyman and state senator, four years as the Bergen County prosecutor, and was briefly a candidate for the 1977 Republican gubernatorial nomination.
Roukema won, 39%-32%.
After ousting Maguire in 1980, Roukema was re-elected ten times, never by less than 64%.
Democrats ran a woman against Roukema just twice, but that wasn’t because they were biased toward men. Frankly, they were typically just happy to find someone to run against the popular congresswoman.
When Roukema retired in 2002 after facing two grueling primaries against conservative Assemblyman Scott Garrett (R-Wantage), Democrats ran Anne Ricks Summers, a Bergen County physician. She won 38% of the vote.
Two years later, Democrats nominated another woman, Anne Wolfe, to take on Garrett. She won 41%. After that came Rotarian American Paul Stuart Aronsohn, who was only able to garner 44% in a hugely Democratic year.
Garrett finally lost his seat in 2016, to Gottheimer.