As candidates begin to declare for the 2020 election, New Jersey’s 5th congressional district, already has Two Republican challengers to two-term Rep. Josh Gottheimer, also known as the “Human Fundraising Machine.”
Gottheimer won this R+3 district by 4.4% in 2016 over Rep. Scott Garrett, and by 13.7% over John McCann, a former Cresskill councilman.
So far two major candidates have declared to run for the Republican nomination for the general election: McCann, and self-funder Frank Pallotta.
In 2018, McCann won the Republican nomination over former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan, who also ran a failed 2013 U.S. Senate bid, and 2014 primary for Congress in the 3rd District that was won by Rep Tom MacArthur.
Here’s a look at McCann’s 2018 primary performance.
McCann won the Republican nomination with 53.14% of the vote, compared to Steve Lonegan’s 46.86% share of the vote. With a margin of 6.28%, and 1,886 votes, McCann won by a small margin over the former Bogota mayor. 56.3% of the votes cast, came from Bergen County, the home county for both McCann and Lonegan. 7.3% of the votes came from Passaic, 23.1% came from Sussex, and 13.3% came from Warren County.
Most votes for McCann came from Bergen County, representing 60.3% of his overall vote share, and he won the county over Lonegan by 13.5%, or by 2,394 votes.
Lonegan only got 51.8% of his overall votes from Bergen County, but attempted to make up for his shortfall in the more suburban and urban areas by outperforming McCann in the more rural Sussex and Warren counties. This did not pan out, and McCann was able to keep the margins very close in these counties, only losing Sussex by 6.28% or 457 votes, and losing Warren by 2.08% or 87 votes. Meanwhile Passaic County, representing 7.33% of the primary’s votes, went for McCann by 1.56%, not making or breaking either candidate.
McCann’s electoral victory over Lonegan, occurred for two main reasons. First, McCann was able to win Bergen County, the most vote-rich county in the 5th district, by a large margin, which helped make up for losing ⅔ of the other counties in the district to Lonegan, and only winning the other one by a under 2% margin. Second, Lonegan did not over-perform McCann by a margin that was large enough to overcome his defeat in Bergen County, and McCann was able to garner enough votes in Passaic, Sussex, and Warren, combined with his sizable Bergen County victory, to win the nomination.
For McCann to win the primary for a second time, he will have to hold his margin in Bergen County, and hold even in the rest of the District, and if he wanted a more impressive margin either run up the score in Bergen County, or improve by a small margin in the three 3 counties. Regardless of who wins, it will be a challenge to defeat Gottheimer who won this R+3 district by nearly 14% in 2018 and is currently sitting on a $4.9 million pile of campaign funds and raised nearly $850k during the first quarter of 2019.