Eight weeks after a hugely divisive Republican primary, Burlington County GOP Chairman Sean Earlen has endorsed David Richter for Congress in New Jersey’s 3rd district.
Richter is challenging freshman Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown).
He defeated Burlington’s candidate, former freeholder director Kate Gibbs, by 13,056 votes in the July 7 primary, a 61%-39% margin.
“Following a hard-fought primary, it is time for us to come together as one party and work towards our common goal of defeating Andy Kim,” Earlen said. “I have heard from leaders across Burlington County who are ready to come together and I look forward to fighting alongside David as we secure victories across our municipalities, take back two seats on the Freeholder Board and kick Andy Kim out of Congress.”
Gibbs appeared to have locked up the nomination to run against Kim last year when he won the GOP organization line in Burlington County.
At the same time, Burlington Republicans endorsed Richter for Congress in the next-door 2nd district to take on another freshman Democratic congressman, Jeff Van Drew .
Van Drew switched parties a few weeks later, and Richter switched to the 3rd district after President Donald Trump and key GOP leaders marshaled support for Van Drew.
Earlen initially refused to back Van Drew, saying his organization would honor its commitment to Richter to run on Burlington line in NJ-2.
Instead, Richter switched districts and launched bruising attacks on Gibbs’ arrest for shoplifting and low-level marijuana possession when she was in her early 20s.
He ran what has become known as the Snooki Ad, which compared Gibbs to the Jersey Shore’s Snooki Polizzi: “Our Jersey shore values. Family. Community. Hard Work. Kate Gibbs? She’s more that Jersey Shore. Gibbs parties hard and she’s got the criminal record to prove it. Arrested multiple times. Public drinking. Caught with drugs. Even convicted of theft. Banned from Kohl’s for life. Sued nine times for not paying her bills. Jersey Shore was an embarrassment to our community. In Congress, Kate Gibbs would be too.”
Gibbs had won the recommendation of the Ocean County Republican screening committee in February, but then lost the GOP convention in March by just eight votes, 68 to 60.
Former Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore, who resigned last year after his conviction on federal tax charges, played an integral role in helping Richter secure an upset convention victory.
A switch of just five votes would have given Gibbs the Ocean line and could have pushed Richter out of the race.
Richter won Ocean County in the primary by about 17,000 votes, 78%-22%, overpowering Gibbs’ 57% -43%, 4,000-vote win in Burlington.
Two days after the primary, Earlen issued a statement saying that Richter needed to mend fences in Burlington County “after his numerous unnecessary attacks on party leaders, committee members, and volunteers whose support he will need on Election Day.”
“Unfortunately, primaries like this bring out the worst in our party,” Burlington County Republican Chairman Sean Earlen told the New Jersey Globe last month. “The only real winner was Andy Kim, watching, taking notes, and fundraising from the sidelines.”
Two weeks ago, Richter hired Gibbs’ campaign manager, Angelo Lamberto, as his deputy campaign manager.
“The Burlington County GOP is well known for their strong grassroots efforts and for winning some of the toughest elections in New Jersey. Their hard work will be vital to regaining Republican control of the third district,” Richter said. “If we are going to be successful in taking back the House and firing Nancy Pelosi once and for all as Speaker of the House, it is going to be because we have found success as a team across the 3rd district.”