We are only one month into 2020, and the South Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic Primary race is already heating up. There are currently seven candidates seeking the nomination, ranging from County freeholders to environmentalists to college professors. While any of the seven candidates would be better than the lying and traitorous Jeff Van Drew, only one can excite a new base of young voters: Amy Kennedy.
In 2018, I was a high school senior interning on a congressional primary campaign against then Democrat Jeff Van Drew. I supported Van Drew’s opponent because of her education and union background. This campaign was viewed as a longshot because the party chairs backed Van Drew before any voting took place which is being repeated again in this year’s primary. Even back then his ‘A’ rating from the NRA and vote against gay marriage definitely did not excite a future voter going into the general election. Now it is 2020, and I am a 19-year-old college student searching for a candidate that will listen and support the values of new and younger voters.
In her opening campaign message, Ms. Kennedy highlighted combatting climate change as one of her top priorities. The issue of climate change is personal to so many young voters, like me, because this is a fight for our future. In her opening ad, Ms. Kennedy expressed concern for the coast lines that are “under attack by energy corporations and climate change while environmental regulations are gutted,” in reference to the Trump Administration’s proposal to allow oil drilling rigs to be built along the coast. On her Facebook page, Ms. Kennedy has endorsed New Jersey’s climate plan of achieving 100% clean energy by 2050. With a changing economy, this will forge an opportunity for South Jersey to create new jobs for future generations like myself.
In 2016, the issues of college affordability and debt cancellation took center stage in national debates during the Democratic presidential primaries, and they are continuing to be debated in the current 2020 presidential field. As a public-school teacher, Amy Kennedy will be able to bring a new perspective to the debates over college debt, universal pre-K, and paying our teachers humane wages.
Recently, while President Trump visited Wildwood to rally support for traitorous Jeff Van Drew, Amy
Kennedy participated in a counter rally and protest hosted by Cape May Indivisible. There, she spoke alongside civil rights advocate Martin Luther King III and affirmed her support for sensible gun reforms. As a mental health advocate, she expressed her outrage and concern for students in school who must do active shooter drills. The day after the rally, she endorsed New Jersey’s red flag laws, praising the preemptive measures and investment in mental health services.
It’s understandable for Democratic voters to question if gun control legislation is an issue our nominee should run on, in what has been deemed a “conservative district”. If we look to the 2018 and 2019 elections, Democratic candidates made the issue of sensible gun control legislation one of their top priorities and delivered a Democratic House of Representatives and Democratic Virginia legislature. Specifically, in the 2018 midterm elections, youth voter turnout reached a 100-year high, according The United States Census Bureau. If we want to continue this momentum going into 2020, Democrats in CD2 need to back a candidate like Amy Kennedy who will fight to make our schools safer.
Now it is time to talk about the elephant in the room: her last name. Ms. Kennedy, in a candidate forum in Brigantine earlier this month, did not shy away from her family’s heritage. A heritage of political giants, like John, Bobby, and Ted Kennedy, who inspired millions of young people to become involved in the political process. Ms. Kennedy recognizes what her last name means, not just across South Jersey, but also the entire country. Her last name represents the youngest person ever elected to the presidency, the fight for civil rights during the era of Jim Crow, and the introduction young college students into the election process.
I believe that a candidate dedicated to issues such as education, guns, and climate change, who brings a new and unique perspective among the primary field, can continue the momentum that will rally the young people in the general election, which will ultimately hold Van Drew accountable. That candidate is Amy Kennedy, and we, the young people, need to rally behind her this primary season.
Jacob Bernard is a first-year student at Georgetown University from Pitman, New Jersey in Gloucester County. He has lived in South Jersey all his life and describes himself as passionate about this upcoming Democratic primary race.