A 38-year-old yacht manufacturer who was one the lead singer in a punk rock band and now teaches yoga has emerged as the leading challenger to Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) in New Jersey’s 3rd district next year.
Robert Healey, Jr., the co-chairman of the South Jersey-based Viking Yacht Company, has been meeting with Republican leaders to line up party support for a congressional bid and is expected to self-fund a major portion of his campaign.
“Confirming that I’m exploring this run,” Healey told the New Jersey Globe in a text message.
Healey has hired GOP political consultant Chris Russell, the chief strategist for the last two GOP congressmen from the district, former NFL star Jon Runyan (R-Moorestown) and Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River), the NJ Globe has learned.
The Moorestown resident would be an unconventional candidate for Republicans nationally.
Heavily-tattooed with long hair and nipple piercings, Healey is also a successful businessman and humanitarian.
That sets up a potentially riveting comparison with Kim, strait-laced Rhodes Scholar who worked on the National Security Council staff in the Obama White House before running against MacArthur in 2018.
“We may have to call this match-up the Breakfast Club of the cycle,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “John Hughes could not have written a more fascinating contrast if he tried.”
Healey spent eight years as the lead singer for The Ghouls, a streetpunk rock band well-known in the Philadelphia area, and as the CEO of Punk Rock promotional company.
The second generation leader of a family-owned shipbuilding company, he now runs a company that is renowned as a builder of semi-custom fiberglass yachts and employs over 1,000 people. His business also included ownership of nearly 2,500 garden and high rise apartment units and real estate development projects in New Jersey and Florida.
He also heads up the Healy International Relief Organization, which has delivered healthcare services, food, clean water, and education programs in war-torn Sierra Leone.
Healey is not registered as a member of any political party, the Statewide Voter Registration System shows, but he has contributed to local Republican candidates, including Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport) and former Lumberton Mayor Sean Earlan, the Burlington County GOP Chairman.
Toms River councilman Matthew Lotano is also considering a challenge to Kim. Tricia Flanagan, who has lost to two race for U.S. Senate, is already in the race.
Kim unseated MacArthur in the 2018 mid-term election by a narrow 3,973-vote margin, 50%-49%, and was re-elected by 33,513 votes, 53%-46%, against former Hill International CEO David Richter last year.
The current district produced a narrow 49.4%-49.2% win for Donald Trump against Joe Biden in 2020, but the lines could be changed next year after a new district is drawn to reflect the 2020 U.S. Census.
The current 3rd district has 15,880 more Democrats than Republicans.
This story was updated at 1:26 with comment from Healy.