Former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs today announced that she was forming an exploratory committee to mull a challenge to freshman Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton) in New Jersey’s 3rd district.
“I have had enough of politicians in both parties spending so much time tearing our country apart for their own gain, rather than finding solutions that bring us together,” Gibbs said. I expect to make a final decision about my plans in the coming weeks and appreciate all the encouragement I’ve received.”
Gibbs’ interest in running for Congress was first reported by the New Jersey Globe.
Kim is considered one of the top GOP targets nationally, as long as Republicans come up with a strong candidate. Gibbs is considered a top-tier recruit for Republicans.
The 33-year-old Gibbs has strong ties to the state’s building trades union, which also backed Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) for re-election last year. She works for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, one of the state’s most politically influential labor unions.
“As a millennial Republican woman who has good friends on both sides of the aisle, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of politics doesn’t represent me or everyone in my generation,” Gibbs said. “Embracing socialism and turning our back on the great democratic experiment that is America is not the answer to our problems.”
Gibbs lost by 9,550 votes to Democrat George Youngkin, who had dropped out of the race in September after a Burlington County Times story revealed that he had been arrested for attempting to choke his ex-wife and for stalking another woman.
“I was born in South Jersey, raised by a single mom, worked to put myself through school, and became the first person in my family to graduate from college,” Gibbs said.” I am deeply troubled about the direction of our country and sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to fix it isn’t my style.”
The 3rd district is one of the most politically competitive in the state, with 10,627 more Democrats than Republicans. President Donald Trump won the district by six points, 51%-45%, in 2016.
Kim, a former Obama White House staffer, defeated MacArthur by just 3,973 votes in 2018 – the closest House race in the state.
Since taking office in January, Kim has raised more than $1.1 million and has nearly $1 million cash-on-hand, without taking any corporate PAC money.
As a first-time candidate in the 2018 mid-term elections, Kim raised $6,230,916 – significantly more than MacArthur, who self-funded his first race, who brought in $4,778,480.
Gibbs was in Washington this week to attend the Operating Engineers’ National Legislative Conference and broke away to meet with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) to discuss a possible challenge to Kim.
National Republicans have been aggressively recruiting women candidates to take on Democratic incumbents.
During her three years as a freeholder, Gibbs promoted equal pay for women and led the push to require all county employees to receive training to combat sexual harassment.
Gibbs would almost certainly have the support of Burlington Republicans if she runs, but it is not immediately clear if Ocean County Republicans have made any commitments.