There’s an early battle in the race for the Republican nod to take on Rep. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown).
House candidate Tricia Flanagan last week attacked Robert Healey Jr., the co-chairman of the South Jersey-based Viking Yacht Company and a former punk rocker positioned as the race’s Republican frontrunner.
“No joke — punk rocker Rob Healey entered the Primary in NJ CD3, has no party affiliation & these are actual band pictures,” Flanagan said on Twitter Friday. “It’s as if the Devil himself has decided to run for Congress.”
Along with her post, Flanagan posted four pictures: a flyer for a reunion show by The Ghouls, Healey’s band, the group’s Facebook profile picture, a poster for a punk rock music festival at which the band appeared last February and a photo of the candidate’s band mates that shows Healey’s shirtless back.
The group disbanded in 2008 after Healey, performing under the stage name Bob Price, left the band to start a family. It reunited in October 2019 and played at least one more show in West Palm Beach, Florida, in late February 2020.
Chris Russell, a political consultant for Healey, said Flanagan’s attack reflected poorly on her, adding it might be damaging to the Republican Party writ large.
“Unhinged personal attacks — like calling someone you never met ‘the devil’ — say more about Tricia Flanagan than it could ever say about Bob,” he said. “Unfortunately, Ms. Flanagan’s ‘get off my lawn’ mindset is one that our party needs to get past.”
Though Flanagan’s attack over Healey’s registration is spot on — the Statewide Voter Registration System shows he is not registered as a member of any party — he has contributed to GOP candidates, including Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport) and Burlington County Republican Chairman Sean Earlen, a former Lumberton mayor.
Flanagan, who previously launched two unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaigns, is already running for the seat, while Healey’s bid is still at the exploratory stage.
She has not filed campaign finance disclosures required by the Federal Election Commission, which sent her requests for additional information on an unfiled year-end disclosure from her Senate bid last year and an unfiled April quarterly disclosure for this year’s House campaign.
She’s been cited for similar lapses in the past, including for an unfiled 2018 October quarterly report. She failed to filed personal financial disclosures required of candidates for Congress in 2020.
Healey would certainly be an unconventional Republican candidate. The former frontman has long hair and pierced nipples and is heavily tattooed. But he also is also a millionaire with a capacity to self-fund favored by Republican leaders in the district.
Rep. Tom MacArthur and former Hill International CEO David Richter, the last two Republicans to run in the third congressional district, were also wealthy and willing to spend their money on their races. MacArthur spent $5 million from his own pocket during 2014 House bid.
“As Republicans, we need to embrace candidates who can attract new, non-traditional voters to our party with a commonsense, conservative platform of personal responsibility, individual freedom, free markets and a hand up for those in need,” Russell said.