NORTHFIELD — Likely Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional District Amy Kennedy, of Brigantine, is ready to mend fences after a heated primary election.
The party needs to be strong to defeat U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd, Kennedy said at a victory party Tuesday night at her headquarters.
“The first step is going to be about pulling together support — making sure the Democratic Party is unified for what will be a tough race,” she said of November’s general election against the freshman congressman. “I will make sure I reach out to people not with me in the beginning of this race.”
With about half of the more than 60,000 vote-by-mail ballots cast districtwide counted by midday Wednesday, Kennedy had about 65% of the vote to Brigid Callahan Harrison’s 26% and Will Cunningham’s 12%.
Kennedy had absorbed many attacks from her strongest opponent, Longport’s Harrison, who conceded the election minutes after the close of polls.
The attacks prepared her well for the race against Van Drew, Kennedy said.
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“That’s what primaries are for,” Kennedy said. “It’s definitely been helpful to sharpen my own stance and prepare me for what’s coming.”
“We are where I thought we would be,” Van Drew, who beat his primary opponent, Bob Patterson of Ocean City, handily with more than 80% of the vote, said of Kennedy winning the Democratic primary.
He said he will stress the differences in vision between him and Kennedy.
“What my campaign is going to be about is a strong America, strong military, energy production, strong borders and education,” Van Drew said. “And a strong supply chain.”
In a concession video, Harrison said she wanted to coalesce the party to defeat Van Drew.
Harrison had gone after Kennedy regarding her husband, Patrick Kennedy’s donation of $500,000 to a super political action committee that financed $75,000 in attack ads against Harrison, after Amy Kennedy had promised not to self-fund her campaign. She also criticized other aspects of Kennedy’s campaign and family finances.
Kennedy said she had spoken to both Harrison and Cunningham, of Vineland, who based on the earliest results placed a distant third. Kennedy said both candidates were gracious and generous in their remarks to her.
She had not yet heard from state Senate President Steve Sweeney, she said, who supported Harrison, but hoped to talk to him soon.
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On Wednesday, Sweeney released a statement on Kennedy’s win.
“The democratic process must be respected, and our goal remains the same — and that is to defeat Jeff Van Drew and elect Joe Biden president of the United States,” Sweeney said. “I congratulate Amy and look forward to her victory in November.”
John Foonjian, executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, called Kennedy’s win “an impressive victory throughout South Jersey.”
“Looking at the numbers, Kennedy won in every county,” Froonjian said. “The only ones even a little close were Camden and Gloucester, but Kennedy still won by double digits in Norcross and Sweeney territory.”
George Norcross is a political powerbroker based in Camden County, and Sweeney’s home county is Gloucester. Both had supported Harrison, who had the coveted county line in six of eight counties in the district. That put her name under Biden’s for president and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, both of whom won their contests.
“In Cumberland and Cape May, there was a 20-to-30-point spread. It’s very early in Atlantic County, but the numbers even now are unbelievably lopsided,” Froonjian said.
Kennedy and many of her supporters said they were surprised by Harrison’s early concession.
“I knew it could be a longer process, and I was prepared for that,” Kennedy said. “I’m grateful to be able to focus on the general election.”
Van Drew ignited Democrats’ ire when he switched to the Republican Party after voting against impeaching President Donald Trump, amassing a crowded field of opponents.
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Some contenders had already dropped out, leaving five Democratic candidates in the race Tuesday night. In addition to Kennedy, Harrison and Cunningham, the two others were West Cape May Commissioner John Francis and retired FBI agent Robert Turkavage, of Brigantine.
Kennedy celebrated Tuesday night at her headquarters in Northfield with family, friends and Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife, Tammy.
“I can’t believe we won the lottery here in South Jersey,” Murphy said, calling Kennedy a “bona fide fourth-generation Jersey Girl.”
Kennedy said Murphy made the decision to drive down from his home in Monmouth County after hearing Harrison had conceded just minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
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Some politicos had seen the race as a proxy fight between Murphy and the South Jersey political machine run by Norcross and Sweeney, both of whom are considered foes of Murphy.
The gathering was held in the parking lot of the campaign offices on New Road, near the produce store owned by Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, who supported Harrison.
Everyone wore a mask, but it was difficult for all to stay 6 feet apart, especially as just about all attendees seemed to want a photo with the presumed winner.
NJ Primary Results 2020 as of July 13
|Atlantic City||Mayor||Marty Small||D||3,326|
|Atlantic City||Mayor||Pamela Thomas-Fields||D||1,627|
|Atlantic City||Mayor||James Whitehead||D||243|
|Atlantic City||Mayor||Thomas Forkin||R||403|
|Atlantic County||Sheriff||Eric Scheffler||D||15,985|
|Atlantic County||Sheriff||Joseph O'Donoghue||R||11,029|
|Atlantic County||Surrogate||Stephen Dicht||D||12,991|
|Atlantic County||Surrogate||Levi Fox||D||2,877|
|Atlantic County||Surrogate||James Curcio||R||11,174|
|Atlantic County||Freeholder||Caren Fitzpatrick||D||15,660|
|Atlantic County||Freeholder||Celeste Fernandez||D||15,701|
|Atlantic County||Freeholder||John Risley Jr||R||11,213|
|Atlantic County||Freeholder||James Toto||R||10,876|
|Atlantic County||Freholder D3||Andrew Parker||R||2,187|
|Atlantic County||Freholder D3||Thelma Witherspoon||D||3,184|
|Barnegat Township||Township Committee||Alfonso Cirulli||R||1,668|
|Barnegat Township||Township Committee||Joseph Marte||R||1,662|
|Barnegat Township||Township Committee||Charles Cunliffe||D||1,644|
|Barnegat Township||Township Committee||Peggy Houle||D||1,691|
|Cape May County||Freeholder||Elizabeth Casey||D||5,504|
|Cape May County||Freeholder||Brendan Sciarra||D||5,285|
|Cape May County||Freeholder||Will Morey||R||6,624|
|Cape May County||Freeholder||Jeffrey Pierson||R||6,535|
|Lacey Township||Township Committee||Nicholas Juliano||R||1,980|
|Lacey Township||Township Committee||Bill Stemmle||D||1,286|
|Lakewood||Township Committee||Michael D’Elia||R||4,805|
|Lakewood||Township Committee||Hector Fuentes||R||4,632|
|Lakewood||Township Committee||Harold Herskowitz||R||1,391|
|Lakewood||Township Committee||Ray Coles||D||2,110|
|Lakewood||Township Committee||Mordy Gross||D||1,977|
|Little Egg Harbor||Township Committee||Ray Gormley||R||1,632|
|Little Egg Harbor||Township Committee||John Kehm||R||1,603|
|Little Egg Harbor||Township Committee||Gabriel Franco||D||1,273|
|Little Egg Harbor||Township Committee||Shaun Moran||D||1,264|
|Lower Township||Mayor||Christopher South||D||1,323|
|Lower Township||Mayor||Frank Sippel||R||1,455|
|Middle Township||Township Committee||Bob Jackson||D||987|
|Middle Township||Township Committee||Timothy Donohue||R||1,091|
|Ocean County||County Clerk||Scott Colabella||R||39,146|
|Ocean County||County Clerk||Kathy Russell||D||31,413|
|Ocean County||Freeholder||Joe Vicari||R||38,731|
|Ocean County||Freeholder||Helen Dela Cruz||D||31,398|
|Ocean Township||Township Committee||Ken Baulderstone||R||1,019|
|Ocean Township||Township Committee||Rita Kopacz||D||567|