They call him Coach Kev in Old Bridge, the guy coming out of the dugout or prowling the sideline of a youth basketball or football game whom you’ve seen all your life, and who under the baseball cap of common cause no longer feels the two major political parties represent him.
So he’s running as leader of the “Coach Kev” Party, according to the New Jersey Secretary of State’s list of general election candidates.
“You cant have a plan based on the other party failing,” said newly minted independent Kevin Antoine, an associate professor of health at SUNY, who’s challenging state Senator Sam Thompson (R-12), another Old Bridge resident. A third candidate, David H. Lande of Millstone, is running for the Democrats in the heavily Republican district.
Antoine for Senate signs sprang up over the weekend, a little over a month after Thompson crushed challenger Art Haney in the Republican Primary.
Antoine was a Democrat.
“I voted for George Herbert Walker Bush – the first Bush,” he told InsiderNJ. “But I’ve been more or less a Democrat my whole life – I grew up in the south. But I think both parties are failing. We need to reevaluate why we are for or against someone or something. Right now what we’ve got are party bosses making decisions.
“Take the last budget crisis,” Antoine added. “It shouldn’t have been a crisis. I’ve been here for 11 years, and for that whole time I’ve watched this district present no candidates, no fundraising or campaigning. What I want to do is run a campaign for real for a change.”
He’s known as “Coach Kev” and so figures to have a jump start among those fathers and mothers of Old Bridge Cougars.
As for the incumbent, Thompson, Antoine said, “I’ve never really seen him. I think he’s probably a good man, but basically silent. Take that vote to reduce the capacity of firearms from 15 to ten. He didn’t vote on it. He votes the party line, and that’s okay, but I think being a good man is one thing and being a leader is another.”
If elected, Antoine said he wants to focus on infrastructure districtwide, more funding for public schools, better curriculum, and increased and expanded healthcare. He told InsiderNJ his decision to challenge Thompson had nothing to do with the gubernatorial contest between Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno, and offered no preference for the top of the ticket.