Political Science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison has declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd district and could face party-switching incumbent Jeff Van Drew in the 2020 general election.
“Jeff Van Drew made a choice. He has repeatedly ignored the voices of our community and has instead sold his soul, cutting backroom deals with the White House,” Harrison said in a statement announcing her candidacy. “Whether you are a Democratic, Republican, or Independent, the last thing the people of the 2nd Congressional District need or want is to elect a blind pawn for Donald Trump.”
After Van Drew cast one of two Democratic votes against an impeachment inquiry, Harrison began to actively consider a primary challenge against Van Drew, a freshman who flipped a House seat to the Democratic column in 2018 after 24 years of GOP occupancy.
Now Van Drew is becoming a Republican.
“It’s time to put politics aside and do what’s right for South Jersey. We need citizens, not politicians. That’s why I’m running for Congress,” Harrison said.
Harrison had been involved in Atlantic County politics before embarking on a twenty-year career as a college professor. She ran a strong race for freeholder in the 1990s and was the secretary of the Atlantic County Democratic organization.
“The people deserve an independent minded representative who is willing to fight for a stronger health care system, strategic investments in infrastructure, and getting corporate special interest money out of our politics,” said Harrison. “Most of all, we need someone in Washington who will look out for more than just themselves.”
A leading expert on American politics, Harrison is the author of American Democracy Now, which has become a top political science textbook at the college level. She is also the author of three other books on government and politics. She served as president of the National Women’s Political Caucus for Political Science and as president of the New Jersey Politics Science Association.
Harrison grew up in a political family as the youngest of seven children. Her father, John P. Callahan, was a Runnemede councilman in the early 1960s. She is a graduate of Holy Spirit High School in Absecon and Richard Stockton College. She received her master’s degree from Rutgers University and her Ph.D. in American Politics from Temple University.
The Longport resident has deep roots in Atlantic County. She was a charter member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative of the Atlantic County United Way and served on the boards of the Atlantic County Women’s Center and the American Cancer Society – Atlantic County Unit.
The mother of three children – one a cadet at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis — she was a member of the South Jersey chapter of Families with Children from China, was the membership chair of the Smithville Elementary Parent Teacher Association for over a decade.