Congressional candidate Tanzie Youngblood will find a blessing Tuesday night, when the former teacher will appear on a national cable news program on racism in America.
Youngblood, perhaps the most serious challenger standing between State Sen. Jeff Van Drew and the Democratic nomination to fill retiring Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s seat, will appear on an MSNBC townhall on racism in America hosted by network anchors Joy Reid and Chris Hayes, a potential boon to a campaign that reported receiving a little more than $9,000 in its recently-released pre-primary FEC reports.
Ex-Booker staffer Will Cunningham and farmer Nathan Kleinman are also making runs for the Democratic nomination.
Youngblood will join the program in part because of the lack of institutional support she’s received from the district’s party leadership. The chairs of the eight counties in the district are all white men, as is the candidate they’re supporting.
Such national coverage has benefitted her campaign in the past, Youngblood said at a phone bank party in Buena Saturday flanked on either end with hours of canvassing in the day’s sweltering heat.
Youngblood said that a Newsweek article on her candidacy published in March brought a welcome surge of donations. Such a surge would be even more welcome now, given the departure of the first-time candidate’s finance director a little more than one month ago.
But even so, the Youngblood didn’t seem all that concerned about her campaign’s money troubles, or about Van Drew’s lack of the same – the senator had more than $400,000 in his war chest in mid-May.
At the very least, Youngblood said she would see a surge in financial backing were she to win the nomination.
“I’ve got people lined up from here to Gloucester County if I win this thing, you know? and everybody’s like, ‘see me after the primary,’” Youngblood said. “The bottom line is that it’s about the votes, not the money.”
But it’s not clear how likely she is to win the nomination in a historically red district. While the district tends to flip in presidential elections, LoBiondo’s held the seat since 1995. Trump won 50.6% of the vote here in 2016, while the district broke for Obama in the general both times he ran.
Conventional wisdom says Van Drew, a right-of-center Democrat, is likely to be successful in the district largely because he appeals to Republican voters who might be put off by a progressive candidate like Youngblood.
But Youngblood disagreed, saying that the district breaking for Trump was a sign that voters wanted change, and she’s the change candidate in this race, not Van Drew, who was has served in the legislature since 2002, first as an assemblyman and as a senator since 2008.
“We need change down here, and if we continue to do what we’re doing, it’s going to say the same,” Youngblood said. “When they say ‘oh, we’re conservative’ – I know we’re broke. I don’t know how conservative we are. If this is what conservative gives us, then we got to change our way of thinking.”
Democrats in the district do outnumber Republicans in terms of voter registration, 148,534 to 132,479, but there are more than 200,000 unaffiliated voters.
There’s precious little time left before the June 5 primaries. Until then, Youngblood plans to continue her canvassing drives and seeking the support of voters who might feel left behind by their current representation, particularly women voters and those of color.
“June 5th, if anybody’s near the ocean, they’re going see a pink wave come,” Youngblood said.