Every seat in New Jersey’s 12-member congressional delegation is up for grabs this year. Voting culminates on Election Day Nov 8. With the exception of Albio Sires (NJ-8) all the incumbents are gearing up for another tilt.
You know the June 7 primary is on the horizon by all the intra-party jockeying to determine which candidates will emerge to take on the incumbents.
In NJ’s 3rd Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Andy Kim is gearing up for a 3rd term.
Congressman Kim’s GOP rival this November will be Bob Healey or Ian Smith.
While both men whine about things like cancel culture in equal measure, Healey v. Smith looks like a proxy battle between the old school- and modern GOP. In the Wall Street Journal corner, you’ve got Mr. Healy, a Catholic School advocate who runs a South Jersey company that builds fancy boats for rich folks.
In the “COVID’s a myth” corner there’s Ian Smith, a gym-owner who made national headlines by repeatedly defying NJ’s emergency pandemic precautions. Mr. Smith drew hoards of maskless, cheering supporters to rallies outside his gym to traffic COVID myths and political conspiracies. Smith’s antics, which repeatedly put law enforcement at risk for COVID, turned him into a rightwing folk hero all over FOX NEWS, a friendly place where no one asked about the time Mr. Smith killed someone while driving drunk.
Surfing a wave of his own martyrdom earned Mr. Smith hoards of attention and a half million dollars via GoFundMe.
“This is not an exercise in vanity,” noted Steve Kush, an advisor to Smith’s campaign, which is crazy because vanity is all I see here.
Ryan Peters is a GOP lawmaker who did two terms in the New Jersey General Assembly. He lives and
votes in the district. A career Naval officer and former SEAL, Mr. Peters is unimpressed with Mr. Smith’s brand of virtue signaling.
“Ian Smith is a self-promoting carnival barker who is trying to hijack the Republican Party and drag us down, rather than drive us forward,” Mr. Peters told InsiderNJ. “This guy pretends to be some kind of alpha dog, but truth is he’s really just a drama queen. Bottom line, I like winning, and this guy is a stone cold loser in November.”
Of course, given the nature of the district, it might be hard for any Republican to win in NJ3.
According to Micah Rasmussen, who runs the Rebovich Institute for NJ Politics at Rider University, the newly configured 3rd Congressional District is more solidly Democratic than ever, a huge boost for the incumbent Congressman Kim.
“[Former President] Trump carried what will soon be the old 3rd district by a fraction of a point, while the towns that make up the new district gave Biden a 14-point win,” Mr. Rasmussen told InsiderNJ.
Mr. Kim’s district swaps its (conservative-leaning) towns in Ocean County for bits of Monmouth and Mercer, including Hamilton Township, population 92,000.
None in this is good news for whichever Republican emerges from this the June primary.
“NJ’s 3rd Congressional district will now include all of Burlington, except for Palmyra and Maple Shade,” Mr. Rasmussen added. “It also picks up parts of Mercer and Monmouth— adding all of Hamilton, Lawrence, East Windsor, Hightstown, and Robbinsville in Mercer, and Allentown, Englishtown, Freehold Borough, Holmdel, Manalapan, Marlboro, Millstone, Roosevelt, and parts of Marlboro and Freehold Township” in Monmouth County.
Jay Lassiter is an award-winning writer and podcaster based in Cherry Hill.