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Heading into 2020, the thought was President Donald J. Trump – whatever his national eventualities – would simply drag Democratic incumbents back into office in New Jersey while perhaps even giving them a shot at the ever-elusive 4th Congressional District.
But New Jersey decided to hatch a little surrealistic surprise, in the form of U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s defection (R-2) from the Democratic Party, just in time for a presidential election year. The stated reason? Van Drew couldn’t support the Democrats’ impeachment of the Republican President, who had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election.
Even with the uniform change, Van Drew, it should be noted, is the favorite in a district Trump carried by single digits in 2016. The congressman’s Democratic allies – running as “The Van Drew Team” – lost in LD1 last year, failing to withstand a challenge led by a candidate simultaneously serving as the co-chair of Trump’s 2020 New Jersey reelection campaign. Still the defection uncorked a whole series of unresolved dramas.
While CD2 offers its own special prodigious intensity, at least two other congressional districts should prove very competitive in 2020: CD3, where incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3) seeks reelection, and CD7, home to U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7). Both districts were home to Republican incumbents in 2018 and now the Democrats must defend their respective battlegrounds. Most insiders see U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) as too-established to defeat in a district he ripped from a movement conservative Republican in 2016. For her part, CD11 incumbent U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11) – herself the conqueror of a longtime intergenerational Republican in 2018 – carries too considerable a brand to beat. It seemed unimaginable that Larry Casha, the man who lost to Sherrill conquest Jay Webber way back in 2007, could someone summon the wiles to improve on the efforts of his own conqueror. And it already proved so, as D.C. lobbyist Rosemary Becchi pushed Casha aside this month to become the Republican option against Sherrill with Casha’s support….