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Kennedy looks to unify Democrats against Van Drew after tough primary
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Kennedy looks to unify Democrats against Van Drew after tough primary


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.

“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.

On Wednesday, Sweeney released a statement on Kennedy’s win.

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“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.

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.

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

As of 4:30 p.m. on July 13, 31,625 of an estimated 45,000 ballots cast in the July 7 primary had been counted in Atlantic County. Atlantic County numbers are updated to July 13, but not other counties.

County Race Candidate Party Votes
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

Contact: 609-272-7219

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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