Seth Grossman, a former Atlantic County freeholder and Atlantic City councilman, scored an upset victory in the Republican primary for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd district. He will now face Jeff Van Drew, a right-of-center State Senator who won the Democratic primary with 55% against three progressive candidates.
The two will seek the seat of Frank LoBiondo, a Republican who is retiring after 24 years in the House.
Grossman came out of nowhere to beat Hirsh Singh, a 31-year-old engineering executive who had the organization lines in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Ocean counties.
Former Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi finished third with 23%, while retired FBI agent Robert Turkavage received 7%. Fiocchi won four of the eight counties.
Singh faced criticism in recent weeks after he was late filing a financial disclosure that showed that he lacked the resources to fulfill his pledge to raise $2 million to keep the LoBiondo seat from flipping to the Democrats. Republicans say that the slightly abrasive Singh rubbed voters the wrong way.
Van Drew, who had the backing of all eight Democratic county organizations in South Jersey and he endorsement of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, faced opposition from more liberal members of the party who objected to his 100% rating from the National Rifle Association and his vote against same-sex marriage.
Progressives could not settle on a single candidate to face off against Van Drew, a popular vote getter in Cape May and Cumberland counties. In the end, the four candidates to Van Drew’s left split the vote: retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood won 19%, former Cory Booker aide Will Cunningham took 17%, and farmer/activist Nate Kleinman received 9%.
Grossman, who last won an election in 1988, beat Singh in Atlantic County by 1,714 votes, 51%-33%.
Fiocchi carried Cape May County, where he had the line, by a 42%-33% margin over Grossman, with Singh finishing in third place, 1,031 votes behind Grossman.
Cumberland, where no candidate was on the line, went 39%-33% for Fiocchi, a Vineland resident. Singh finishing third with 20%, 342 votes behind Grossman.
Gloucester County also had no candidate on their line. Voters gave Fiocchi a 37%-29% win over Singh, who finished just 13 votes ahead of Grossman.
In Salem County, Fiocchi beat Singh by 133 votes (37%-30%), with Grossman finishing just 41 votes behind Singh (28%).
Singh carried the other three counties where he had organization endorsements.
He won Ocean County, where he had the backing of County Chairman George Gilmore, but not decisively. He won 58%-36% over Grossman, but his margin was just 671 votes.
Singh carried Camden County, where he beat Grossman 58%-24%. But Camden represents a tiny portion of the district, and Singh margin over Grossman was just 69 votes – 117 to 48.
And in Burlington County, Singh’s 60%-32% win over Grossman translated into a 45-vote margin in a county that only cast 159 votes in the primary.