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Former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs will challenge Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton) for New Jersey’s 3rd district congressional seat in 2020.
“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,” said Gibbs. “Turning our back on America, embracing socialism, threatening to eliminate private health insurance, and adopting Phil Murphy’s out-of-touch policies on Sanctuary Cities and taxpayer-funded giveaways to illegal immigrants is not a message that is going to sell in the Third Congressional District in 2020.”
Gibbs, who announced an exploratory committee in September, filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission earlier today.
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.
She has the backing of Burlington County GOP Chairman Sean Earlen. Ocean County Republican Chairman Frank Holman has not endorsed anyone.
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.
She lost her freeholder seat by 9,550 votes in 2018 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,” said Gibbs. “From there, I went on to become one of the youngest women ever elected to countywide office in New Jersey, where I cut property taxes, improved school security, made life easier for working moms, and guaranteed equal pay for equal work. I want to bring that same common sense, pragmatic approach to Washington, and be a leader in Congress who isn’t anyone’s rubber stamp.”
She is the second candidate to enter the race for the Republican nomination.
Barnegat Township Deputy Mayor John Novak filed yesterday as a candidate for Congress.
Novak, a former New Jersey State Trooper who now practices law in Toms River, has not always gotten along with his fellow Republicans.
In 2016, he ran as an independent candidate for Ocean County Freeholder. He won 2.75% of the vote countywide, and finished fifth in his hometown.
“We look forward to seeing who emerges from the Republican primary,” said Anthony DeAngelo, a campaign spokesman for Kim. “Deputy Mayor Novak has made it clear to voters what he believes on key issues facing our community. In the two months since former Freeholder Gibbs has expressed interest in running, those same voters have yet to hear what she stands for and are eagerly awaiting answers.”
The 3rd district is one of the most politically competitive in the state, with 10,565 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 $1.8 million and has $1.5 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.
Democrats won the seat in 2008, when John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) won following the retirement of twelve-term Rep. Jim Saxton (R-Bordentown). Adler lost ex-NFL star Jon Runyan two years later.
MacArthur won the seat in 2014 after Runyan four years in Washington were enough.
If elected, Gibbs would be the first Republican woman to represent New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives since Rep. Marge Roukema (R-Ridgewood) retired in 2002.
This story was updated at 12:02 PM with comment from DeAngelo.