Listen to audio version of this article
David Richter plans to put his family’s Princeton home up for sale to move to Ocean County, where he is now actively pursuing the backing of the Ocean County Republican Committee toward the party’s nomination to take on incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3).
To that end, Richter hired Bill Stepien as his senior campaign adviser.
Stepien is the political director for President Donald J. Trump, and was involved in ensuring the 2nd District got behind the reelection effort of Democrat turned Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2).
That effort included the political deoxygenization of Richter.
But the millionaire businessman had new life today as a Republican candidate in a new district.
He told InsiderNJ that he set out to turn a blue district red, and initially wanted to personally give the heave ho to Van Drew, who he saw as just another obstructionist.
Van Drew’s switch from D to R gave him a win, of sorts.
“I felt like I had success and then in early December, the president embraced Jeff,” Richter said. “I put up a good fight, but it became increasingly clear that the party was united [behind Van Drew].
“My mission had been achieved,” Richter added.
So, “I looked at the 3rd district, where Andy Kim is way too liberal [for the district].”
Richter grew up in Willingboro and lived in Cherry Hill (which was once in the district) as recently as after law school.
He’s had a connection to the 3rd most of his life.
“I don’t think I’m stepping on anyone’s toes,” he said, when asked to consider the existing candidacy of Kate Gibbs, who already has the backing of the Burlington County Republican Committee.
“The voters are going to have a choice,” Richter said. “If that’s Kate [at the end of the primary season], she will have my full support.”
Burlington had their convention.
Ocean will have theirs in early March.
“We’ll have a primary,” Richter said. “I would be surprised if she [Gibbs] got out. The voters have a choice.”
The Richters have a home in Princeton and rent a second home in Avalon.
“My plan is to put my home up for sale and to move to Ocean,” said the candidate, who cites his record of accomplishment in business as an advantage.
He said he didn’t leave the 2nd District scrum with a feeling of having been bullied by the president or with a sense of skepticism about the process.
“No, not at all,” Richter said, seeing Van Drew’s success as the consequence of support offered by a popular incumbent president.
“Obviously the county endorsement process is very important; I grew up in Burlington, so I expect to be competitive there [where Gibbs already has organizational support],” Richter said. “In early March we will compete in Ocean.”
If he can earn support in Ocean, he can make it competitive in Burlington and win the primary, he said.
His hiring of Stepien today pits his team against a Gibbs command center that includes veteran Republican operative Chris Russell.