This story was updated with comment from Gottheimer at 1:03 p.m. Wednesday
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) will defeat Glen Rock Councilwoman Arati Kreibich in a primary that drew national attention after prominent progressive lawmakers endorsed the challenger, the New Jersey Globe projects.
Gottheimer won 73% of the vote, while Kreibich got just 27%.
“I can’t thank our grassroots team of volunteers and supporters enough, and the leaders of our Party and elected officials who stood with me from day one,” Gottheimer said. “I’m also very grateful to my incredible campaign team, who worked around-the-clock to help make this happen, and to my beautiful and brilliant wife and our two wonderful children, for always standing by me.”
Kreibich has conceded.
In an attempt to emulate progressive challengers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Kreibich launched a House bid to Gottheimer’s left in a district Republicans held for the better part of a century before the incumbent ousted Rep. Scott Garret (R-Wantage) in 2016.
The challenger believed Gottheimer, whose congressional reputation hinges on his role as co-chair of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, was out of step with the district’s voters and too conservative by half.
“It’s more important than ever that Americans need to be politically and civically active, and Arati’s engagement is a good example of the responsibility we all have as citizens,” Gottheimer said. “I’m eager to work with all Democrats, in our “big tent” Party, as we fight for victory in November.”
In the campaign’s last month, her bid drew support from progressives like U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), but that support proved insufficient to overcome Gottheimer, a politician known for his fundraising prowess.
The challenger failed to win support from any of the district’s Democratic organizations, and while the high-profile endorsements provided a boost to her fundraising, the councilwoman raised less than a tenth of what Gottheimer has since the start of 2019.
Through June 17, Kreibich raised $474,812, while Gottheimer raised about $5.3 million. He had more than $8 million banked at the time.
In some senses, the resource gap was clear. Days out from election day, Kreibich launched two new digital ads touting progressive policies and endorsements while attacking Gottheimer as President Donald “Trump’s favorite Democrat.”
Days later, the money ran out, and by Monday, both of the ads had fallen off the air.
At the same time, Gottheimer had more than 60 digital spots running across Facebook-owned platforms. By that point in the campaign, Kreibich had spent just over $20,500 on Facebook ads, while Gottheimer bought more than $206,000 worth of online spots.
In some ways, the COVID-19 crisis helped blunt the threat posed by the progressive challenger. For roughly three-and-a-half months, New Jersey was in a state of virtual lockdown. Retail campaigning was a liability, both electorally and from the perspective of public health.
For Kreibich, a local elected official with little name recognition outside of Glen Rock and few resources, the pandemic was a massive hit.
Donations fell across the political spectrum as businesses closed and voters scrimped. Gottheimer, insulated by a network of wealthy donors, was largely unaffected and continued to report contributions of roughly $800,000 quarter after quarter.
Kreibich had little such luck. Though her fundraising improved after Sanders, Pressley and others announced their support, she was still left with massive cash deficits and few ways to reach voters free-of-charge.
She continued to campaign through the height of the pandemic, while Gottheimer turned his attention — and his advertising — toward the crisis and away from the campaign trail.
While Gottheimer rarely mentioned Kreibich publicly, Pressley’s endorsement forced a response from national Democrats.
The same day the congresswoman’s endorsement was announced, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, backed Gottheimer.
Days after Sanders endorsed Kreibich, the Congressional Black Caucus put their support behind the incumbent.
Bergen County Freeholder Vice-chairwoman Joan Voss and Ridgewood Mayor Ramon Hache defeated progressive freeholder candidates Daniel Kim, Edmund Fanning, Laura Occhipinti and Patricia Henry. Kim and Fanning bracketed with U.S. Senate candidate Larry Hamm, who lost to U.S. Sen. Cory Booker Tuesday. Occhipinti and Henry ran with Kreibich.
Vote tallies do not include uncounted mail-in ballots received by Tuesday, late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. Tuesday, provisional ballots that won’t be counted for at least a week and mail-in ballots that were disqualified but may be cured at a later date.