The scraps of scribbled notes piece together to form something resembling a story, and in this case it’s the story of CD2 in little soundbites pouring out of the mouths of sources on the ground there.
If U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2) can withstand the barrage of cash coming from challenger Amy Kennedy and her allies – it will be in Cumberland (specifically unaffiliated voters), a source insisted.
Kennedy nabs Atlantic County.
Van Drew drives big numbers out of his home turf Cape May.
Kennedy should snag Democratic Cumberland, but the allies of Van Drew – a former LD1 lawmaker – spent two decades pounding lawn signs into that district “and maybe there’s some muscle memory there,” said a source.
But he admitted he doesn’t think it’s enough, especially considering the late surge of GOP money to CD7
and young Tom Kean, Jr. for his Central Jersey suburban war with incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7) – not Van Drew. Gone are the heady atmospherics generated by the Trump campaign out of Wildwood, replaced by a last stab for legitimacy on the old aristocratic coattails of former Governor Tom Kean, one of the last of those leafy purveyors of civil NJGOP branding (Frelinghuysen and Lance already gone, Bateman clinging) trying to survive the Trump era.
What about Craig Callaway, isn’t he factor?
Won’t he power some Van Drew love out of the seaside gambling mecca and the urban environs of neighboring Pleasantville?
“Marty Small beat Callaway,” said the source, referring to the sitting mayor of Atlantic City. “Small is
relegating Callaway, piece by piece, to the dingy recesses of Atlantic City political history. He’s not going to be a big factor. Watch.” But there is a complicated – and sulfuric – developing story line playing havoc with the local ground game.
Kennedy in the COVID-19 era of campaigning, the source insisted, is making up with money usually spent more heavily on a street game, to connect with suburban voters.
If Van Drew hopes old Cumberland types stick with him along with some VBM help in Atlantic from Callaway (and dirty tricks elsewhere), Kennedy is banking on stripping “Bush Republicans”, especially women, out of the Hammontons and Margates of the CD2 universe. Even with his own late-in-the-game infusion, “Van Drew has never felt this kind of weight, this kind of pressure, on top of him,” said a source. “He’s never been up against money like this. Kennedy money.”
“And some of the older voters – Republicans – remember Camelot,” insisted a second source, who also argued that the Donna Pearson freeholder candidacy in Cumberland will stymie Van Drew in the county where he would hope to try to rely on old ties.
“The African-American community in Cumberland is motivated for Donna,” said the source. “Remember, like Amy in Cumberland, she ran off the line in the primary and won. She’s seen as exactly the kind of anti-establishment candidate the district craves right now.”
But what about that Norcross-Sweeney machine?
Aren’t they sitting on their hands down there?
A source told InsiderNJ that Building Trades maxed out to Kennedy.
“But why aren’t they walking?”
“No one’s walking,” the source said. “Not even for [electrical worker U.S. Rep. Donald [Norcross].
“Apparently [ironworker Senate President] Sweeney’s hatred for Van Drew supercedes his sense of humiliation over the primary loss,” the source added.