All four Democratic county chairs in New Jersey’s 5th district today endorsed Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) for re-election to a third term in Congress, including Democratic State Chairman John Currie.
Gottheimer is facing a challenge from the left in next year’s Democratic primary from Arati Kreibich, a Glen Rock councilwoman.
Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano, elected earlier this month to replace Louis Stellato in the state’s largest county, is reminding Democrats that the district was represented for fourteen years by Republican Scott Garrett before Gottheimer unseated him in 2016.
“The Democratic Party has always welcomed diverse viewpoints under our Big Tent. However, let’s not forget how far we’ve come since the fifth district was represented by an anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, anti-healthcare Tea Party extremist,” said Juliano and Vice Chair Balpreet Grewal-Virk. “We cannot lose sight of how many candidates tried and failed to win in the 5th and that that Donald Trump won the district just two and a half years ago.”
Currie says that Gottheimer flipped a district three years ago despite the odds being against him. Gottheimer beat Garrett by 14,897 votes (51%-47%) while Donald Trump won the 5th by 4,089 votes (48%-47%).
It is quite possible that maintaining Democratic control of the house in 2020 will come down to what happens in New Jersey. The 5th district could be the difference between having Democratic or Republican Speaker,” said Currie, who is also the Passaic County Democratic Chairman. “We need the strongest possible candidate who can win a swing district that Trump won and that is Congressman Josh Gottheimer.”
Gov. Phil Murphy, who is popular among progressive Democrats, has already endorsement Gottheimer.
Gottheimer also had the endorsements of county chairs in Sussex and Warren, the only two counties that gave pluralities to Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.
“Josh Gottheimer has been a breath of fresh air for Sussex County,” said Katie Rotondi, who was elected Sussex Democratic chairwoman in June. “For over a decade, Democrats tried to defeat Republican Rep. Scott Garrett whose oppressive policies were suffocating the county, but only Josh was successful in this fight because he made all Democrats a priority.”
Warren County Democratic Chairman Thomas Palmieri cautioned Democrats against putting the 5th district seat in jeopardy of flipping Republican.
“I strongly oppose a primary that puts this seat and our values at risk,” said Palmieri.
Until Gottheimer ousted Garrett, Sussex and Warren counties had been represented by a Republican congressman since Jim Courter (R-Allamuchy) defeated two-term incumbent Helen Stevenson Meyner (D-Phillipsburg) in 1978.
Juliano and Grewal-Virk said that the 5th district – almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans — “could easily swing back” to the GOP if not for Gottheimer’s efforts.
“We’re fortunate to have a Congressman that delivers for our communities and fights every day for our families,” Juliano and Grewal-Virk said. “No matter your shade of blue, we must keep our eye on what’s most important in 2020, winning back the White House and keeping control of the House of Representatives.”