Rep. Tom MacArthur rounded out his election day-eve campaigning with a stop in the heart of Ocean County, the Republican stronghold that will likely decide whether he or former Obama staffer Andy Kim holds the third congressional district’s seat come January.
MacArthur appeared there alongside Senate candidate Bob Hugin and Rep. Chris Smith, whose district includes portions of Ocean County to give voters in the county a last-minute push ahead of an election that is now just a handful of hours away.
“You have knocked on over 200,000 doors. You have made more than 800,000 phone calls. You have given. You have supported. We have done the work,” MacArthur told the crowd of roughly 200 at a hotel ballroom in Tom’s River.
MacArthur’s race, like a number of other House races in the state, could well decide control of the lower chamber of Congress, and it’s drawing eyes outside of New Jersey.
In particular, MacArthur’s race is on President Donald Trump’s radar.
“I have to tell you that about 6:15 tonight, I got a phone call from the White House,” Ocean County Republican Chair George Gilmore said. “And their question was ‘how’s Tom MacArthur going to do?’ and I said well, if Ocean County does its job, we all know that Tom’s going to lose Burlington significantly, but if Ocean County does its job … and we follow through, we will win.”
Gilmore predicted that MacArthur would lose Burlington County by about 14,000 votes. He won that county in 2016 with 99,449 votes to Frederick LaVergne’s 85,760. In 2014, the last midterm election, Aimee Belgard narrowly beat MacArthur there 55,305 to 54,953.
Burlington will almost certainly break for Kim this time around, just as Ocean is almost guaranteed to break for MacArthur again.
So this race, perhaps more than any other in the state, is all about the base.