An early endorsement of Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) by one of New Jersey’s most powerful grassroots environmental groups creates another barricade to a progressive challenge to his renomination in next year’s Democratic primary.
Gottheimer was endorsed on Monday by the Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest environmental advocacy group.
“He is also an advocate for clean water and open space and has a stellar voting record when it comes to protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink,” said New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel, who praised Gottheimer’s record on national and state environmental issues.
Glen Rock Councilwoman Arati Kreibich is mounting a primary against Gottheimer from the left, but endorsements like the Sierra Club make it more difficult to make the case that the incumbent should be replaced by Democrats.
“Few organizations in the state have been as outspoken and politically successful over a long period of time as the Sierra Club, and so when they put their stamp of approval on a candidate, it sends a message that he will be supported by environmentally-minded primary voters, and that portion of the primary-voting electorate is not up for grabs,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.
Tittel said Gottheimer backed funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, fought to remove led from schools, endorsed protections for the Wallkill River National Refuge, and pushed for the cleaning of Lake Hopatcong.
“Congressman Gottheimer is the frontrunner on getting DEP enforcement to protect the people of Vernon from illegal dumping and holding polluters accountable,” Tittel said.
This is Gottheimer’s third Sierra Club endorsement. The group backed him in his 2016 campaign to unseat Rep. Scott Garrett, and again last year when he sought re-election.
Last week, 137 Democratic municipal chairs and local elected officials – many of them progressive leaders – endorsed Gottheimer for re-election.