GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The two major-party candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in the state’s 2nd Congressional District will debate Oct. 19 at Stockton University.
Democratic challenger Tim Alexander, of Galloway, and U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the Republican incumbent from Dennis Township, have agreed to participate. The one-hour debate will be held at 6 p.m. in the Campus Center Theatre on the Galloway campus.
The William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton and The Press of Atlantic City are cosponsoring the event.
Van Drew, 69, is a retired dentist and former state legislator who won the June 7 primary with 86% of the GOP vote districtwide — and 91% of the vote in Atlantic County — against two opponents.
Alexander, 56, a civil rights attorney and former law enforcement officer, won his primary in June with 62% of the Democratic vote districtwide against Sea Isle City engineer Carolyn Rush. Alexander has not previously held public office.
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Alexander has said he was the victim of police brutality and falsely accused of a crime when he was young and living in North Jersey. He was cleared, but the experience left him determined to change policing for the better from within, he has said.
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He is a former detective captain in charge of the Criminal Investigation Section for the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
In an interview after the primary, Alexander said his top three issues are reproductive rights for women, the economy and better safeguards for access to guns. He wouldn’t support raising taxes on an overly taxed New Jersey, he said.
Van Drew, on the other hand, said he is focused on undoing many of the changes made by the Biden administration and the Democratic majority in Congress in recent years.
“This is a real race in my mind about: Are we going to get inflation under control? Are we going to get a real supply chain that works? A better system to ensure those that commit violent crimes and have long rap sheets stay in jail? Are we going to say, ‘Don’t woke-ify our military?’” Van Drew said. “Are we going to close our border, put up a wall and keep safe, good immigration policy? Are we going to have formula on the shelves? Will we exit countries, not in a backwards, half-assed way (as in Afghanistan)?”
Van Drew was elected in 2018 as a Democrat but changed parties to Republican in 2019 after refusing to vote to impeach President Donald Trump and having the Democrats refuse to support him further.
He was reelected in 2020 and now is running for his third term in office.
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Both candidates are in decades-long marriages. Van Drew has two adult children and two grandchildren, and Alexander has three adult children.
At this time, the debate is scheduled to be held in person. Limited seating for the public may be available, but details will be announced closer to Oct. 19. The debate will be broadcast live on the Hughes Center and Press websites, and a video recording will be archived on the Hughes Center site.
Sponsors require independent candidates to meet a campaign finance standard to qualify to be invited to participate. Such candidates must have raised and spent at least $5,000 — the minimum that requires reporting to the Federal Election Commission — to qualify. No other candidates have met that standard.
REPORTER: Michelle Brunetti Post