Home>Campaigns>Evangelist Shawn Hyland will challenge Kim in NJ-3

Shawn Hyland. (Photo: Hyland for Congress).

Evangelist Shawn Hyland will challenge Kim in NJ-3

Former leader of N.J. Family Policy Alliance enters race for GOP nomination

By David Wildstein, October 01 2021 11:40 am

Rev. Shawn Hyland, the former executive director of the Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey and one of the statewide leaders in a bid to get Gov. Phil Murphy to reopen houses of worship during the pandemic, will seek the Republican nomination for Congress against Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) in New Jersey’s 3rd district next year.

“I’m running for Congress because I believe we need leaders that will stand against the divisive and dangerous rhetoric that is tearing our country apart,” Hyland said on his campaign website. “Every day it seems like the values that bind our country together – freedom, individualism and opportunity are under attack”

An ordained minister and father of four, Hyland served as the New Jersey state coordinator of Christians United for Israel and is now a private consultant for houses of worship.  The Family Policy Alliance was formerly known as CitizenLink and Focus on the Family Action.

He is the third Republican to enter the race to take on Kim, who won his second term in 2020 by a 53%-45% margin against Republican David Richter in a district that Donald Trump carried by the narrowest of margins.

Mount Holly school board member Will Monk and former U.S. Senate candidate Tricia Flanagan are already seeking party support to take on Kim in a district that will be redrawn early next year.

Others, including Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel), Toms River Councilman Matt Lotano, and businessman Bob Healey, have not yet announced their plans.

He’s laying out a conservative, pro-life platform in his challenge to Kim, a two-term congressman and former White House national security staffer during the Obama administration, with much of his criticism so far aimed at national Democrats.

“It’s become all too clear the decisions made by the Biden administration will leave America less safe and our military less prepared,” Hyland said.  “I will always support a strong national defense along ensuring those that serve our country with honor are given the support they deserve.”

Hyland has also pledged to protect free market capitalism and fight “dangerous social list polices being pushed by fringe Democrats” in the House, and to fight rising crime rates and efforts to defund local law enforcement.

“Tragically, human lives are being lost in this self-inflicted crime surge at the hands of the far left,” he said.  “There is no more important role of government than ensuring American families are safe and out of harm’s way.”

He is also setting up a contrast with Kim on 2nd amendment issues.

“I support responsible gun ownership by law abiding citizens. There are restrictions and controls already in place such as background checks and waiting periods,” Hyland explained. “Targeting the rights of law-abiding legal gun owners does not address the causes of mental health or street crime that makes our cities and suburbs less safe.”

Despite his conservative bonafides and platform, Flanagan dismissed the evangelist minister’s candidacy.

“I smell an establishment RINO with this novice primary challenger for Tricia Flanagan,” she tweeted.  “When will the establishment learn that Patriots will never support that crap?”

Hyland enters the race with a compelling life story: he grew up in South Toms River by a single mother and with help from his grandmother. His mother and his father, a Vietnam veteran, both worked two jobs, but the family also depended on local food pantries.

After working midnight shifts in a Lakewood factory and then as a manufacturing supervisor, Hyland said he decided to enter the ministry.

He’s faced some tough times, his campaign biography says.  He and his wife bough their first home but were forced into a short sale following the economic downturn of 2008.  Hyland lost many of his possessions after a rental home in Brick flooded during Superstorm Sandy.

“We got back on our feet – again. We finally purchased a home in Bayville,” Hyland stated. “During this time, I organized massive Jersey Shore community service weeks with dozens of churches and thousands of volunteers. I led an Ocean County faith-based initiative, in partnership with the Ocean County Prosecutors office, to inspire tens of thousands of our residents to love their neighbors and stand against racism and prejudice.”

With the 3rd district race just starting to take shape, Kim already has a huge fundraising advantage.  He raised a massive $800,000 in the 2nd quarter of 2021 and had over $2 million in his campaign warchest, not including what he raised over the last three months.

Kim flipped the Burlington-Ocean House seat in 2018 when he defeated two-term Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) by 3,973 votes (50%-49%) in what was the closest House race in the state.

New Jersey’s 3rd district has 11,471 more Democrats than Republicans – an advantage that has grown from 11,197 just two years ago – but is one of just seven House districts in the nation carried by Donald Trump and a Democratic congressman.

This story was updated at 12:51 with comment from Flanagan.

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