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One candidate has had a few run-ins with the law; the other is seen by some as a carpetbagger.
Welcome to the Republican race for Congress in the Third District.
The next milepost in this acrimonious tussle between David Richter and Kate Gibbs arrives Wednesday when Ocean County Republicans convene to endorse a candidate. The district, which ranges across the southern part of New Jersey, covers Ocean and Burlington counties. Gibbs already has won the endorsement of Burlington Republicans; she is a former freeholder.
These endorsements, of course, carry a lot of weight, given the fact the endorsed candidate runs in the June primary with the imprimatur of the county organization. That doesn’t automatically guarantee success, but it helps.
With that in mind, the run-up to the Ocean convention looks more like the last few days before an actual election.
The candidates are releasing endorsements and then, you have the “ads,” even if they are just on YouTube or similar platforms.
This brings us to Snooki.
A video posted recently by the Richter camp takes aim at Gibbs’ past legal woes, which include arrests for public drinking, drug possession and shoplifting. The point is clear – Gibbs represents “Jersey Shore” values reminiscent of Snooki and the infamous TV show, The voice over suggests that “Jersey Shore” was an embarrassment to the real Jersey Shore and that Gibbs would be an embarrassment in Congress.
And just what is the real Jersey Shore?
Richter’s video suggests it’s a sunrise over the ocean and a guy making a pizza. What precisely does that mean? The video also shows Richter and his family walking on the beach looking very Norman Rockwell-ish
Nonetheless, Gibbs’ past adventures seem like a legitimate problem. Many of us have had youthful indiscretions, but usually only one.
Putting that aside – if you can – the 33-year-old Gibbs would seem to be what the Republican Party needs – a young woman candidate with a history of election success.
Richter’s problem is altogether different.
He comes across as a man looking for a district in which to run.
A resident of Princeton, Richter, the former CEO of Hill International, a global construction management firm, initially planned to run against Jeff Van Drew in the Second District. But when Van Drew switched parties, Richter opted to change course and run in the Third District. As we know, there is no legal requirement – although there probably should be – mandating that congressional candidates live in the district they want to represent.
A video posted by Gibbs poked fun of Richter’s “district-shopping.” suggested that he has no genuine ties to the Third District.
Her past problems, notwithstanding, Gibbs has ample organizational support.
Bill Palatucci and Ginny Haines, the state’s national Republican Committee members, said in a statement that Richter’s comparison of a “genuine Jersey Girl like Kate Gibbs” to the cast of Jersey Shore is shameful and evidence of Richter’s desperation.
For his part, Richter this week offered an endorsement from a lawman – Frank Provenzano, the former Somerset County sheriff and a new resident of Ocean County. Citing Gibbs’ past legal woes, the former sheriff called her “unfit” to serve in Congress.
An outsider viewing this skirmish from afar may hypothesize that Andy Kim, the Democratic incumbent who won the district by a mere 4,000 votes in 2018, is orchestrating the turmoil.
He probably wishes he had the power to do so.