CD2 Flashpoint: Kennedy and Harrison Campaigns Clash

Amy Kennedy and Brigid Harrison in Cape May this morning.

In an intensification of rhetoric ahead of a critical March 8th Atlantic County convention, the Amy Kennedy Campaign this afternoon criticized the clean election policy put forth today by rival CD2 candidate Brigid Harrison. Both women are competing (with others) to be the Democratic nominee in the CD Democratic Primary. Earlier this week, Kennedy and the other Democratic contenders for the CD2 nomination with the exception of Harrison – signed an Indivisible Pledge here.

The Pledge calls on candidates to “…call for the end of the county line and to support ballot reform that embraces the spirit of open democracy and Democratic values to compete in a transparent Primary process in which there is no inherent advantage granted to a single candidate through the ballot structure and we engage solely on the merits of our respective experience, platforms, and ability to campaign effectively to win support and invite accountability from our constituents.”

Harrison subsequently released her clean election policy, while highlighting the apparent contradiction of Kennedy opposing the party line structure countywide but embracing the support citywide from the Atlantic City Democratic Committee and seeking Atlantic County backing ahead of the scheduled convention. Her release prompted an objection from Josh Roesch, campaign manager for Amy Kennedy for Congress.

“Brigid Harrison is in no position to talk about clean elections,” Roesch said. “From the day Brigid decided to run, she worked behind the scenes with political insiders and party bosses to rig endorsements and the entire primary process in her favor. If Brigid really wants this campaign to be about election reform, we look forward to her embracing an open and transparent process with a fair set of rules for local party endorsements and supporting reforms like rejecting money from corporate PACs and other special interests.

“The irony of this platform from a candidate whose entire campaign is designed to shut out the voices of a diverse field of candidates, and to take power away from the voters of the 2nd district to decide who represents them in Congress is astounding,” he added.

Matthew Frankel, senior adviser to the Harrison Campaign, responded.

“I’m not sure what Josh is responding to, other than Brigid’s detailed plan that was developed from 25 years of experience advocating for election reform,” Frankel said. “Sounds like Josh is upset that after pitching himself to Brigid in her living room she was not interesting in having him serve as her campaign manager.  Beyond his sour grapes, let’s focus on the facts. Brigid has earned the support of elected officials who see Brigid as the best candidate to beat JVD.  Instead of signing meaningless petitions and attacking Democrats, he and his candidate need to get to work on building actual sound policy.  And if you want to talk about being transparent, ask Amy about trying to buy the Atlantic County Convention by paying off known criminal Craig Callaway.”

On Thursday evening, following a candidates’ forum, Will Cunningham – who, like Kennedy, signed the


Indivisible pledge – expressed discomfort over comments made by Harrison, which he felt were aimed at Kennedy, the mother of five young children.

“Tonight I witnessed something I never thought I’d see in any Democratic primary, let alone the one I’m running in,” Cunningham posted. “One candidate alluded to the unfitness of a mother to run for political office while raising children. No names were mentioned, but it was clear who was being referenced. I hope this was just a misunderstanding, otherwise, Brigid owes Amy an apology. Totally uncalled for and wrong to put a limitation on any woman for her career choices.”

Harrison at the forum had reflected on her own personal history.

“[In 1994] I had my first daughter, Caroline, and the second time I ran, she was two-years-old,” she said. “And to me, it’s just… I had to make a choice, I was working in my career — working, being a mom, and obviously a wife, and I made the decision that I could pursue a career in Washington DC, I could pursue a career in Trenton… But to me, the lifestyle balance of being a teacher and being able to raise my family, it afforded me the opportunity to be a working mom, and still spend time with my family. So that’s what I did.”

The Democrats are vying in an incresingly had-edged competitive primary to presumably take on incumbent U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2), who switched parties from Democrat to Republican and welcomed President Donald J. Trump to the district last month. Van Drew has considerable establishment support in the Republican Primary and the backing of the president as he looks to stare down movement conservative Bob Patterson.


On Thursday, Patterson slapped at Van Drew in the aftermath of the congressman joining a unanimous Democratic vote in removing the deadline for ratifying the ERA in order to allow state legislatures to vote in favor of the amendment even four decades too late.

“It should come as no surprise that liberal Jeff Van Drew sided with Nancy Pelosi and AOC in voting for the liberal ERA,” conservative Republican Bob Patterson said. “After all, Cong. Van Drew calls himself ‘unequivocally pro-choice,’ has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, and boasted about voting to fund Planned Parenthood with taxpayer dollars 16 times. It’s clear that Cong. Van Drew is a Republican In Name Only and will continue to side with liberals on key votes. South Jersey Republicans deserve a conservative choice this June, and I intend to give it to them.”

But movement conservative Seth Grossman, who lost to Van Drew in the 2018 general election, had this to say regarding his old rival’s party switch:

“I’m very happy that Jeff Van Drew finally walked away from the Democratic Party just as I did 52 years ago.”

Van Drew v. Patterson?

“Van Drew, of course,” Grossman said.

Seth Grossman, right, with Hirsh Singh.
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