After winning a vicious primary in the New Jersey’s most competitive congressional districts, Republican David Richter has some work ahead of him if he wants to unite the GOP before his general election contest with freshman Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown).
“Unfortunately, primaries like this bring out the worst in our party,” Burlington County Republican Chairman Sean Earlen told the New Jersey Globe. “The only real winner was Andy Kim, watching, taking notes, and fundraising from the sidelines.”
Richter defeated former Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs by a 64%-36% margin in Tuesday’s 3rd district GOP primary election.
“Mr. Richter has many fences to mend in Burlington County after his numerous unnecessary attacks on party leaders, committee members, and volunteers whose support he will need on Election Day,” Earlen said. “I am hopeful he will do the right thing in the coming weeks to unite the party heading into the fall.”
The 34-year-old Gibbs entered the race last fall and appeared to have a clear path at challenging Kim before Richter entered the race in January.
Richter had been seeking the GOP nomination to run against Rep. Jeff Van Drew in the 2nd district, but dropped out after Van Drew switched parties and announced he would seek re-election as a Republican.
Instead, Richter switched districts and launched bruising attacks on Gibbs’ arrest for shoplifting and low-level marijuana possession when she was in her early 20s.
He ran what has become known as the Snooki Ad, which compared Gibbs to the Jersey Shore’s Snooki Polizzi: “Our Jersey shore values. Family. Community. Hard Work. Kate Gibbs? She’s more that Jersey Shore. Gibbs parties hard and she’s got the criminal record to prove it. Arrested multiple times. Public drinking. Caught with drugs. Even convicted of theft. Banned from Kohl’s for life. Sued nine times for not paying her bills. Jersey Shore was an embarrassment to our community. In Congress, Kate Gibbs would be too.”
Gibbs had won the recommendation of the Ocean County Republican screening committee in February, but then lost the GOP convention in March by just eight votes, 68 to 60.
Former Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore, who resigned last year after his conviction on federal tax charges, played an integral role in helping Richter secure an upset convention victory.
A switch of just five votes would have given Gibbs the Ocean line and could have pushed Richter out of the race.
Kim, a former Obama White House staffer, ousted two-term Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) in 2018 in the state’s closest House race.
He won by 4,973 votes, 50%-49%.
Kim has raised more than $4.3 million since taking office last year and had $3.5 million cash-in-hand.
As a first-time candidate in the 2018 mid-term elections, Kim raised $6,230,916 – significantly more than MacArthur, who self-funded his first race. He brought in $4,778,480.
New Jersey’s 3rd district has 11,105 more Democrats than Republicans, but Donald Trump won it by six percentage points, 51%-45%.