Listen to audio version of this article
They spilled out of the hotel that faces the sea where Amy Kennedy had just badly beaten Brigid Harrison and suddenly created momentum around her 2nd Congressional District (CD2) candidacy.
There’s a bar across the street over there.
Some stumble-drove in that general direction.
Others drove immediately and stumbled later.
Others took time to digest what had just happened in the ballroom inside the Seaview a Dolce Hotel.
“I cannot tell you how bad this is for GN3,” a source told InsiderNJ, referring to South Jersey uber-boss George Norcross III. “He will have to raise $1 million for the primary, $2 million for the general, for a seat that has zero patronage. The progressives are desperate to give GN3 a black eye. no chance in any individual county in the south.
“Kennedy gives them this chance,” the source groaned.
He sized up the implications of Kennedy’s win.
He was surprised, not so much by the win, but by the margin of victory.
Harrison had the formal backing of the machines connected to the South Jersey Democratic Organization ultimately connected to Camden and controlled by a nexus of power that includes Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and George Norcross III. Unlike his networked colleagues who threw in early with Harrison at the public urging of Sweeney, Atlantic County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Suleiman remained neutral in the developing CD2 contest that would decide who would face reviled U.S. Rep Jeff Van Drew (R-2), who changed parties sooner than support the impeachment of Republican President Donald J. Trump. Both Harrison and Kennedy live in Suleiman’s county, and Kennedy is the daughter of a former Democratic mayor.
Suleiman decided to respect the principals – and more or as importantly the convention process – sooner than facilitate a deadly narrative for the Democrats: the thumbs of bosses deciding the party nominee in the 2nd Congressional District.
So while the other counties looked cemented early, Suleiman allowed Atlantic to assume battleground dimensions, with Atlantic City Democratic Committee kingpin Craig Callaway’s public support for Kennedy an obvious emblem of how GN3 (or GN3’s surrogates) wasn’t the only boss active in CD2.
“Brigid’s a good candidate,” the source said. “Smart. Well-prepared. But the bosses jammed her down the throats of the progressives.
“And she is paying the price,” he added sadly.
“They misjudged how angry people are.”
The power-behind-the-candidate narrative feeds Harrison’s non-folksy personality, while Kennedy engenders – the source’s words – “girl next door” with a super-charged name. Favorite teacher. Nice person.
Brigid is the victim here, the source insisted.
“They wanted to stop anyone who might come from the left,” the source said, referring to the early endorsements for Harrison. “They did not see Kennedy coming. They were more worried about [her husband] Patrick. They wanted to crush the third tier.
“And used a nuke,” the source said.
He spoke of ugly emails about Kennedy, which demonstrated more than just a tin ear, reminiscent of some of the internal characterizations of First Lady Tammy Murphy.
Standing where he did, Suleiman, the source said, showed tremendous resolve and fortitude, but will now find himself frozen out of the establishment inner circle – or even the object of wrath.
Kennedy is rumored to be amped for a $500,000 fight, but will go north of that if need be with the connections of her husband, former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late liberal lion Senator Edward Moore Kennedy.
“What a headache for GN3,” the source moaned. “They will have no choice but to go to war.
“This Atlantic thing will now create a boomlet for Kennedy,” the source added. “She will win [Ocean] and Atlantic, and be close elsewhere plus she and Surrency on same line in Cumberland.”
How ironic, the source bitterly added, that Democrats should be preparing for the ultimate showdown with control of South Jersey at stake while Van Drew runs for the GOP nomination unopposed.
A second source, another Democrat, bemoaned the situation for his party coming out of the convention.
“I don’t agree with what Jeff did, and I think there was a better move to be made and still survive than becoming a Republican, and you can say a lot of things about Jeff, but he’s not a stupid politician,” said the source. “He’s cleared the field and the Dems are about to have a war, which will result in a bloodied [and poorer] nominee.
“This weekend was the best possible outcome for Jeff,” he added, doubting the role of the party machine.
“It’s a position with no patronage, so what’s the ultimate return? Just revenge against Jeff? …The only reason I can see them going all out for Brigid is because they don’t want to suffer the appearance of another loss. …First they lose the LD1 race, then they lose Jeff to Trump, add to that a loss to the Sue Altman aligned progressives?
“Pride is the driver now I would think.”
Either way the Dem is going to have a really hard time in the general, the source added.
“I have no reason to believe this will happen, but it wouldn’t completely shock me to see Brigid drop out and everyone coalesce around Kennedy, just to save face,” the source said. “If they get behind Kennedy now, and beat Jeff, then they can still count that as a win. But I don’t think they’ll do that.
“Stubborn is their calling card.”
- Amy Kennedy
- Ashley Bennett
- Atlantic City Democrats
- Atlantic County
- Atlantic County Democrats
- Brigid Harrison
- Cape May County Democrats
- Craig Callaway
- Cumberland County Democrats
- Donald Trump
- Edward Moore Kennedy
- George Norcross
- George Norcross III
- Jack Surrency
- Jeff Van Drew
- MIke Suleiman
- Patrick Kennedy
- Steve Sweeney
- Tammy Murphy
- Ted Kennedy
Click here for the full Insider Index