Sean Thom announced this afternoon that he is ending his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd district, one day after State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Vineland) won the Democratic convention in Thom’s home county, Cumberland.
Van Drew has now secured all eight Democratic organization lines in his bid to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo.
“Stepping away from something you believe in and are so passionate about is never easy, but this is the right time. The various processes in the county conventions have concluded, and the outcomes were very clear. Senator Jeff Van Drew will have the Democratic line for the primary in every county of our Congressional District,” said Thom, a teacher and liberal activist. “Our party has a lot of work to do flip our district from red to blue, and I trust that whoever wins the primary will be the person with the best chance of making that happen.”
Thom’s withdrawal narrows a divided field of Democratic challengers to Van Drew, who has faced criticism for his right-of-center voting record — including a 100% rating from the National Rifle Association and his initial opposition to same sex marriage. Remaining in the race are retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood and Will Cunningham, a former aide to U.S. Senator Cory Booker.
During his brief campaign for Congress, Thom impressed many activists for his vigorous campaign style and his frankness on the campaign trail. His decision to drop out of the race before Monday’s filing deadline offers a strong indication that he wants to run for office again and didn’t want to pursue a campaign he knew he couldn’t win into a contested primary.
“I entered this race because my students asked me to run to be their voice and to fight for them; they were always at the forefront of my mind and policy ideas. They inspired me to always speak the truth and stand for what is right, regardless of how it impacted our campaign,” Thom said. “Staying true to our values and beliefs was a critical part of running for office, and I am proud that we accomplished this. I hope I have represented their interests in full, that our campaign will inspire my students to stay involved and demand their voices are heard.”
A Van Drew victory in November would trigger a special election for State Senate; if one of the 1st legislative district legislators move up to the Senate, it would create another special election for the State Assembly. Thom is considered a potential candidate in both those races.
“I am not sure what the future holds, but I do know that I will continue my life work as a public servant,” said Thom. “I will continue to fight to build a Democratic party that is inclusive and mindful of the needs of all people. I will continue to do everything in my power to create real change that will put Our Future First.”