The fireworks came a few days late this year. In the July 7 primary, Amy Kennedy of Brigantine wowed political observers and many in the public with a runaway victory for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District.
Results from nearly all mail-in ballots were expected to take days, if not weeks (they’re still counting some votes). But Kennedy’s landslide win was so obvious that her main challenger conceded the moment the polls closed.
By virtue of her overwhelming nomination and her role in continuing one of America’s most famous political dynasties, Kennedy has intensified interest in what was already the most watched congressional race in the nation.
On New Year’s Day, we said this would be South Jersey’s ultimate political year.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew of Dennis Township — a popular elected official with years of experience in local government and the state Legislature — had just switched to the Republican Party after a falling out with Democrats over impeaching President Trump.
That ensured the Democratic Party would put state and national resources into trying to defeat Van Drew. And with Trump seeking reelection on the same November ballot, voter interest already was sure to be exceedingly high. Now, we expect a record turnout in the district.
We leave it to political pundits to determine which factors produced the margin of victory for Kennedy that surprised them. Among them are the Kennedy name, the local reputation of her and husband Patrick Kennedy (himself a former congressman), and her likability. We suspect many voters felt she has a better chance of winning in the general election.
Kennedy and Van Drew are both very appealing candidates and excellent representatives of their political sides. This should help make the election more about the clear choice between their policies, approaches to government and vision for the future.
Between the congressional races (all 12 of New Jersey’s House seats and the U.S. Senate seat of Cory Booker are on the ballot) and the presidential contest, the levels of excitement and stress for partisans will be close to unbearable this fall.
Some might find it hard to believe, but life in America will go on after the election, probably with less change than some hoped and others feared. What’s important is that ordinary U.S. citizens choose their representatives freely and fairly, continuing nearly two and a half centuries of setting an example for other nations.