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Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali. Photo by Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe

NRCC adds Ghassali, Richter to Young Guns list

Floundering for funds, Fitzherbert doesn’t make the cut

By Nikita Biryukov, October 30 2019 1:50 pm

The National Republican Congressional Committee added two more New Jersey House candidates to the radar of its Young Guns program.

Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali and David Richter, the former CEO of global construction management firm Hill International, were added to the list of candidates the NRCC think can win over Democrat-held seats Wednesday.

“We’re thrilled to add these compelling, hardworking candidates to our Young Guns program,” NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer said. “While Nancy Pelosi and the socialist Democrats continue to focus on the baseless impeachment of President Trump, we will be working with our candidates to take back the majority in 2020.”

Ghassali is the second candidate from the fifth congressional district to make the list. Former investment banker Frank Pallotta earned the designation in August, as did State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean.

Kean is running in the seventh congressional district.

Richter is the only candidate from the second district to be named a Young Gun.

The Young Guns program is aims to back candidates in Democrat-controlled districts by providing mentorship and support for their campaigns, though being added to the program’s radar doesn’t guarantee support.

In either case, the NRCC isn’t offering financial support for contested primaries.

Notably absent from the list is Former Atlantic County Young Republicans chairman Brian Fitzherbert.

The program requires that candidates meet fundraising benchmarks, among others, to remain on the NRCC’s shortlist.

In the third quarter of 2019, Fitzherbert raised just $21,287. Richter raised $413,000, $300,000 of which came from a personal loan he gave his campaign.

Robert Patterson, a controversial former Trump administration official who has argued that condoms deprive women of the “remarkable” chemicals found in semen and is seeking the Republican nod in the second district, raised $100,342.

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