In an overwhelming demonstration of political strength, 137 Democratic municipal chairs and local elected officials from Bergen County – more than 93% of them — have endorsed Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) for re-election in New Jersey’s 5th district.
Gottheimer faces a primary challenge from the left against Glen Rock Councilwoman Arati Kreibich.
In an open letter to fellow Democrats obtained by the New Jersey Globe, the 137 signatories — many of them progressive leaders in their own right — touted Gottheimer’s ability to unseat a seven-term incumbent in 2016 despite Donald Trump winning the district while holding on to core Democratic beliefs.
“Josh proved that it was possible to elect a pro-equality, pro-women, pro-health care, pro-labor, fiscally-responsible Democrat,” the letter said.
The 5th district has 6,315 more Democrats than Republicans and could be one of a handful of congressional districts in the state where Trump can compete next year.
“To put the historic nature of his victory in perspective, Josh was one of only 12 Democrats in 2016 to win in a District that President Trump also won,” the letter said. “He was one of just three Democrats in the entire country to win in a District that had voted Republican in each of the previous two presidential elections.”
Outside of her hometown of Glen Rock, the door to any meaningful establishment support for Kreibich appears to be closed.
Democratic county chairs in Bergen, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties announced their support of Gottheimer the day Kreibich got in the race. So did liberal icon Loretta Weinberg, the Majority Leader of the New Jersey State Senate.
Gottheimer also has the backing of Gov. Phil Murphy, who heads the progressive wing of the New Jersey Democratic Party.
The letter touts Gottheimer’s record during his nearly three years in Congress on gun safety, civil rights, and the environment. It cites Gottheimer’s work on defending DREAMERS, organized labor, seniors and veterans.
“We pride ourselves on being the Big Tent Party. Regardless of how you view yourself – progressive or centrist, liberal or moderate – we are all Democrats,” the letter said. “Let’s work together to send Josh Gottheimer back to Congress.”
Gottheimer has $6.4 million in his campaign warchest as he prepares for primary and general election challenges, according to a report he filed with the Federal Election Commission last month.
Kreibich had raised over $100,000.
Two of Gottheimer’s potential GOP challengers, Montvale Mayor Michael Ghassali and investment banker Frank Pallotta, had successful third quarter fundraising numbers.
Ghassali raised $301,000 and Pallotta brought in $244,000.
Former Cresskill Councilman John McCann, who challenged Gottheimer in 2018, is also seeking the nomination. So are former Bergen County Republican Organization Secretary Paul Duggan, James Baldini, Jon Dalrymple and Dana Dirisio.
“We have our work cut out for us heading into 2020. In the Fifth District, active Democratic and Republican voters are evenly split, while a vast majority of people are swing voters not affiliated with either party,” the Gottheimer supports said. “All the progress we have made since Josh’s historic victory is at stake and none of us want to see another extremist like Scott Garrett elected.”Gottheimer local endorsement letter 2019