An InsiderNJ Thumbnail of Key June 5th Congressional Primary Contests



Van Drew
Van Drew

There’s an open seat here, abandoned by retiring U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2). The Cook Report sizes the 2nd up as a plus 1 Republican District that leans Democrat in this cycle. On the Democratic side, Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-1) ($456K cash on hand) must get through a Democratic Primary against retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood (14.1K COH). A pair of other challengers – William Cunningham and Nate Kleinman – presumably somewhat muddy the field. Assailed by progressives for his pro-gun stance and pro-Governor Chris Christie voting record, conservative Democrat Van Drew makes the case that he is best prepared to carry the Republican district in the general and deliver Democrats (in need of 24 seats nationally for a majority) the win. Despite some gnawing by liberals, Van Drew has eight county lines. On the Republican side, financially well-connected Linwood engineer Hirsh Singh ($82.5K COH) won four of the eight county organization lines to hold a clear advantage over rivals former Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi, attorney Seth Grossman, and retired FBI agent Robert Turkavage. Movement conservative Grossman hopes to coalesce the right of the party in a divided field, while Turkavage speaks to moderates and Fiocchi appeals to a base he forged as an LD1 assemblyman. Polling done in the district confirms (right now) a strong position for Van Drew.

Singh triumphant.



Democrats Josh Welle and Jim Keady want voters to believe that this is the year it will be (Just Like) Starting Over. The John Lennon classic hit number 4 on the pop charts the same year U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) ($600K COH) – New Jersey’s longest-serving congressman – first assumed office. Smith critics have always moaned about Smith’s lack of a convincing district footprint, noting that they rarely see him. But the congressman has a bankable red district, and Welle ($150K COH), a former Navy officer who possesses all three (Monmouth, Mercer and Ocean) Democratic Party lines and Keady (a fierce progressive) must first battle each other in a tough primary. Trying to make up with mastery of the issues and a base-galvanizing message what he lacks in dollars, Keady – a veteran campaigner – has proved a positive headache for newcomer Welle.



Moderate U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) ($3.3 million) looks strongly positioned to retain his seat in the plus 3 Republican district. In 2016, the Democrat turned U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5) out of office by demonstrating how the movement conservative’s resistance to federal monies ended up costing the taxpayers. Well-funded and aggressive, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan ($708K cash on hand) appears poised to defeat Bergen attorney John McCann for the GOP nomination. Lonegan just released his first ad of the season. But he’s the same ideologically as the already-defeated Garrett – and could even get tangled on the same issues, like advocating the refusal of federal Hurricane Sandy funding. And barring some huge turn around, which could happen, 2018 presents harder challenges for the NJGOP – between a federal budget that socked it to Gottheimer’s district and a grinding Gateway Tunnel – than did 2016.



GOP Congressmen
Lance and Frelinghuysen

The Cook Report rates this a plus 3 Republican “toss-up” district, where U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) wants another term and former assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski wants to turn him out of office. A former state senate minority leader, Lance ($850K cash on hand) has amassed goodwill in the political establishment – in both parties – over the years. But his decade in the U.S. House of Representatives has forced him to tack right and then left depending on the weather. He started his tenure in office supporting cap and trade, got hit hard from the right and spent the Obama years trying to ward off GOP Primary


threats. He was an early backer of movement conservative Steve Lonegan for Congress, and endorsed Trump after Governor Chris Christie ended his presidential bid. Having voted numerous times to repeal Obamacare, Lance voted no in the Trump era as the deck shifted leftward. But he has maintained strong cross-the-aisle relations in Washington, too, most notably enjoying good relations with fellow battleground occupant Gottheimer. To date, Democratic strong frontrunner Malinowski has proved a vigorous fundraiser ($740K COH). This past weekend, he hosted a successful, well-attended headquarters opening in Martinsville alongside U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6). Malinowski still has to get through social worker Peter Jacob and Summit attorney Goutam Jois, who appear to cancel each other out in the primary.



U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (R-11) retirement has sparked primaries in both parties seeking to control this Republican plus 3 “toss-up” district, according to Cook. On the

Ghee Mail.

Republican side, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) of Morris Twp. ($231.3K COH) must get past JAG Officer Tony Ghee of Clifton ($62K COH) and Peter DeNeufville. A rock-ribbed Reagan Republican, Webber exposed Ghee early for being less than a robust party member, and swatted away at DeNeufville on the same score. Ghee allies fear the staunchly pro-life assemblyman will scare women


voters in the general election. Their play appears to consolidate support in Passaic and Essex and seize on the Morris-based DeNeufiville’s presence in the assemblyman’s backyard to

Cobert mail, which went out this week.

trap and sap Webber. Never a shrinking campaign violet, Webber – having already released his first ad of the season – looks eager to win the battle to be the most obviously prepared GOP standard-bearer. Patrick Allocco and Martin Hewitt are also pursuing GOP support. On the Democratic side, retired Navy helicopter pilot Mikie Sherrill has all the party lines, a good story in this cycle, and some strong fundraising ($1.7 million COH). Counselor Tamara Harris ($204K) appeared determined to make it a contest, and has already gone negative (see below), but she’s not the only establishment alternative. Mitchell Corbett (above right) is also running for Democratic Party support. Citing her weekend mail piece, a group called Chatham Moms for Change rebuked Harris in a press release on Monday.

Harris mail


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