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Andy Kim. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Most New Jersey incumbents favored for re-election, race watcher says

Kim more vulnerable than others

By Nikita Biryukov, March 27 2020 11:42 am

One of the country’s leading race watchers thinks most of New Jersey’s first-term congress members are relatively safe in their seats amidst a public health crisis that has drastically shifted how campaigns are being run.

Dave Wasserman, the House editor of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, rated Andy Kim (D-Marlton) as New Jersey’s most vulnerable incumbent.

His race is a tossup, Wasserman said.

The race watcher, who got his start in politics drawing redistricting maps for PoliticsNJ.com, said Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) is advantaged in his race against State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean. That district leans toward the Democrat, according to the Cook ratings.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis), a former Democrat who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump after defecting to the Republican party, is similarly advantaged in his own bid for re-election.

That district leans Republican, according to Wasserman.

First-term Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who faces a challenge from former U.S. Senate Staffer Rosemary Becchi, had her seat rated as safely Democratic.

Sherrill won a first term over Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) by almost 15 points in a district Republicans had held for more than three decades in 2018.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a moderate Democrat seeking a third term in another historically-red district, also had his race rated safely Democratic.

Wasserman said restrictions on in-person contact imposed amid the COVID-19 crisis favored incumbents, who tend to be better funded than their opponents.

Further, while most voters now approve of President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic, fewer approve of his response to the crisis than did far short of previous heads of state — not to mention those of sitting governors — during previous disruptive events.

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