By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. — No major outlets or news networks have called the winner of New Jersey’s Second Congressional District race, but that isn’t stopping Republican incumbent Jeff Van Drew from claiming victory.
Before 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Van Drew took the stage at the Oar House bar in Sea Isle City for a victory speech, according to video tweeted by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Amy S. Rosenberg. At the time of publication, Van Drew leads by a little more than four percentage points with just 69.02% of precincts reporting.
“This was a hard and brutal election. A lot of money and a lot of power was used against me, quite frankly, to remove me from my seat during a difficult year,” Van Drew said to a crowd of his supporters at the bar. “But the truth is, you believed. You believed in America, you believed in the America that we know, the America that we love, the America that we know is this great place where if anybody does something enough, they can reach for that brass ring and achieve greatness.”
At the time of publication, the Associated Press says Van Drew currently holds a lead slightly fewer than four percentage points (51.01-47.44) over Kennedy, the Democratic challenger who was once a schoolteacher in her native Atlantic County, in the district. The AP’s current numbers show that 141,202 voters have picked the incumbent against 131,336 votes for Kennedy. However, these numbers and a few thousand votes for independent candidates Jenna Harvey and Jesse Ehrnstrom only represent 69.02% of precincts reporting.
Kennedy, who is currently self-quarantining after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, hasn’t conceded the race at the time of publication.
Perhaps one reason why Van Drew is seemingly making a premature call about his own race is due to Amy Kennedy’s worse-than-expected performance in Atlantic County. According to the New York Times, Kennedy leads by 4.2 percentage points (51.4-47.2) and slightly fewer than 5,000 votes (57,679-52,943) in her home county. The challenger’s lead in Cumberland County is a much greater 62-36.3 margin, but Van Drew leads in every other part of the district — including Cape May County and parts of Gloucester, Salem, Ocean, Camden, and Burlington counties.
Van Drew initially won the House seat as a Democrat in 2018, but he switched his party affiliation to the other side of the aisle amid President Donald Trump’s impeachment in late 2019. Although Van Drew and Kennedy’s race is among the most hotly-contested in the nation, NBC News has already called the Democrats maintaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives in this election cycle.
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