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Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp. (Photo: Wyatt Earp).

Ocean Democrats won’t endorse in 2nd district primary

By David Wildstein, March 29 2020 12:12 pm

Ocean County Democrats will hold an open primary for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd district, shutting down a convention fight between Amy Kennedy and Brigid Callahan Harrison for the organization line.

That means none of the candidates seeking to challenge Democrat-turned-Republican Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) in the general election will be bracketed with the rest of the organization-backed candidates, which will likely include Joe Biden and Cory Booker.

Ocean County made up 5% of the total votes cast in the 2018 Democratic primary for Congress.  In that race, Van Drew won 59% of the vote in Ocean running on their line.

The next move belongs to Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella, a Republican, who will hold a drawing to determine the order of Democratic candidates on the ballot.  Kennedy and Harrison face three other candidates: Will Cunningham, John Francis III and Robert Turkavage.

Democratic County Chairman Wyatt Earp made the decision this morning after a call with Kennedy’s campaign manager, Joshua Roesch, and her attorney, Raj Parikh.   Ocean County Democratic vice chair Marta Harrison and Earp’s counsel, Kevin Starkey, were also on the call.

Earp was one of two county chairs who have remained neutral in the 2nd district race.  Six county chairs endorsed Harrison soon after she announced her candidacy last December.

Kennedy supporters say they had enough votes to win the convention.

Harrison has organization lines in Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, and Gloucester counties.   She also has the endorsement of the Salem Democratic organization, but they have no line on machine ballots.

In the 2018 primary, Cumberland was at 16%, followed Cape May (15%), Gloucester (13%), Cumberland (8%), Salem (8%), Ocean (5%), and Camden (1%).  There were just 56 total votes cast in Burlington, just two-tenths of one percent.

Kennedy won the organization line in Atlantic County after winning their convention by a wide margin.   Atlantic made up 41% of the vote in the 2018 House primary.

Ocean County Democrats will endorse a candidate for Congress in the 4th district, where David Applefield, Christine Conforti, and Stephanie Schmid are competing for the chance to take on Rep. Christopher Smith.

The party cancelled their convention after large gatherings where banned due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Online voting for the 4th district will continue until 3PM.  Candidates have made  their pitches on videos posted on the Ocean Democratic website.

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