By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
SOUTH JERSEY — Republican incumbent Jeff Van Drew (R-2) has won this year’s hotly-contested race for the House seat in New Jersey’s Second Congressional District, according to a call made by the Associated Press.
Van Drew beat out Democratic challenger Amy Kennedy by a margin of 158,000-143,504. The incumbent won 51.54% of the vote against Kennedy’s 46.81% with 79.73% of precincts reporting.
New Jersey’s Second Congressional District representative will serve another two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives. This time, however, Van Drew will spend the entirety of his term as a Republican. He was initially elected to the seat as a Democrat, but he flipped his party affiliation to the other side of the aisle in late 2019.
Although the Associated Press made its call of Van Drew’s reelection at 12:10 p.m. on Friday afternoon, Van Drew declared victory in the race on Tuesday night. Sixty-nine percent of the votes had been counted at that point, and Kennedy was still in range to reclaim the House seat for the Democratic party. As it turned out, however, Van Drew’s victory claim came good a few days after the fact.
“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 Oar House bar in Sea Isle City on Tuesday. “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.”
In the buildup to Tuesday’s general election, Van Drew downplayed the significance of his party switch, which has now effectively changed the political landscape of New Jersey’s Second Congressional District. The district was considered to be solidly blue when Van Drew was initially elected, but that has obviously changed with Van Drew’s party affiliation. Van Drew and Kennedy’s race for this House seat was considered to be among the nation’s most hotly-contested.
“People voted for me because I’m Jeff Van Drew. My whole career has been based upon the fact that I wasn’t so concerned about Republicans and Democrats,” he said at a debate with Kennedy on October 8. “I was concerned about standing up for and fighting for South Jersey, for believing in the people of South Jersey who often don’t get their fair share. I think people know who I am, what I stand for, and they’ll vote for or against me on that basis.”
In addition to his party change, Van Drew has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, whose prospects of reelection against former Vice President Joe Biden do not look good right now. Biden holds slim leads in crucial swing states Pennsylvania and Georgia along with more sizeable gaps in Arizona and Nevada.
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