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Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis)

Van Drew struggles to raise money

Three other New Jersey freshmen raised more than four times what Van Drew did in 1st quarter

By David Wildstein, April 15 2019 8:05 pm

Freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis) raised just $120,556 during his first three months as a congressman — substantially less than the other four New Jersey Democrats targeted for defeat next year – leaving him cash-strapped as a self-funder mulls challenging him.

The South Jersey Democrat raised 82% of his total haul from political action committees.

Van Drew has only $80,099 cash-on-hand and a debt of $28,537, according to a Federal Election Commission report he filed tonight. He spent $44,657 since January 1.

His possible Republican opponent, David Richter, the millionaire former CEO of one of the nation’s largest construction companies, announced the formation of an exploratory committee last week.

Three other New Jersey freshmen – Reps. Andy Kim (D-Marlton), Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair – have raised more than four times what Van Drew did during the first quarter of 2019.    Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), who is expected to seek his third term, raised $830,000 over the last three months.

Republicans think Van Drew, unbeatable during his seventeen years in the New Jersey Legislature, is vulnerable after winning a surprisingly unimpressive 53% against former Atlantic County freeholder Seth Grossman last year.

The right-of-center Van Drew could also face a primary challenge.  The 65-year-old former state senator won the Democratic nomination with 57% against three progressive challengers.

Donald Trump won the 2nd district by 14,830 votes (50%-46%) in 2016.

The seat was held for 24 years by Republican Frank LoBiondo (R-Ventnor), who did not seek re-election in 2018.

Van Drew raised nearly $1.9 million in his last campaign, considerably less than three other New Jersey Democrats who flipped Republican House seats in the mid-term elections.

Richter spent 22 years at Hill International, the construction firm founded by his father in 1976.  Hill grew to become the 8th largest construction company in the United States.

The 52-year-old Richter grew up in Burlington County and now lives in Princeton, but he appears willing to move his family into the 2nd district to run against Van Drew.

If he runs, Richter would be positioned to spend millions on his campaign.

Now the chairman of Richter Capital, an asset management firm he founded two years ago, Richter was the president of Hill from 2004 to 2014 and the CEO from 2014 to 2017.  During his time at Hill, the company grew from a private firm with 300 employees to a public company with more than 4,300 employees.

“Having to own the socialist policies House Democrats have embraced is bad enough, but Jeff Van Drew’s reelection efforts got that much harder after his abysmal fundraising total,” said Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.  “He should quit now and save himself the embarrassment.”

This story was updated at 10:35 AM on April 16 to include comment from the NRCC.

Jeff Van Drew FEC Q1 2019
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