House candidate David Richter gave a speech during President Donald Trump’s Wildwood rally Tuesday, further suggesting he has the administrations support to run against Kate Gibbs in the third congressional district’s primary.
“We’re going to beat Mikie Sherrill. Tom Kean is going to beat Tom Malinowski. I’m going to throw Andy Kim out of Congress,” Richter told the crowd. “We’re going to re-elect Chris Smith, and we’re going to re-elect our newest Republican congressman, Jeff Van Drew.”
Until yesterday, Richter was challenging Van Drew (R-Dennis), who defected to the Republican party last month after losing support from rank and file Democrats over his opposition to impeachment proceedings against Trump.
In repayment—the optics of a Democrat leaving the party over a belief that it lost its way on impeachment are worth a lot to the White House—Trump has essentially cleared the primary field for Van Drew.
One other Republican candidate, former Trump aide Robert Patterson, remains in the race.
Despite attacking the congressman earlier in the Month, Richter had nothing but praise for Van Drew Tuesday.
“Jeff is going to win in November because he knows how to deliver for South Jersey,” Richter said. “He’s tough. He gets the job done … Jeff is going to win in November because he stood with President Trump and voted against this impeachment farce.”
It’s not yet clear whether Trump will clearly back Richter’s bid. Such a move would likely push Gibbs, who has the party line in Burlington county, out of the race in much the same way that Van Drew’s defection pushed out Richter.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh declined to say if Richter’s appearance at Tuesday’s rally, which Gibbs also attended, indicated a coming endorsement from the president, though he suggested there was at least some subtext to the House candidate’s rally appearance.
“I think it shows that everybody’s on the same page, but I’m not going to go beyond that,” Murtaugh said. “He’s part of the program. I think that speaks for itself.”