It seems odd that in a blue state like New Jersey, our congressional delegation is evenly split – six Democrats and six Republicans. The GOP members are generally not moderate Republicans either, but rather folks that adhere to the extreme policies promoted by the Tea Party.
This split is not an accident, but rather the result of a “compromise” made after the last decennial census when New Jersey lost one House seat (remember Steve Rothman?). Our districts are gerrymandered in a way that it poses very significant obstacles to challengers from the other party.
Nevertheless, there are some brave souls out there willing to take on this challenge. Earlier, we spoke with Peter Jacob in District 7, who is challenging Congressman Leonard Lance – a formerly moderate Republican who drank the Tea Party Kool Aid.
We also see a lot of press about Josh Gottheimer – the Democratic challenger who has a decent chance to defeat The Worst Congressman In New Jersey Scott Garrett.
Another Democratic challenger is Frederick John LaVergne who is taking on multi-millionaire carpetbagger Tom MacArthur. TMac sits in the seat once occupied for a single term by a Democrat after moderate Republican Jim Saxton retired in 2009. To date, LaVergne has not shown the ability to raise the millions of dollars needed to get his message out in a district that includes both the New York and Philadelphia media markets. (LaVergne declined an invitation for a Blue Jersey interview. We’ll be highlighting David Cole, challenger to Frank LoBiondo, in early July).
There’s another Goliath-killer hopeful in the Fourth Congressional District which includes portions of Monmouth, Ocean, and Mercer counties. Lorna Phillipson, whose long career spans from Silicon Valley to Wall Street to the United Kingdom, has stepped forward to challenge 18-term Congressman Chris Smith.
I sat down with Phillipson the day after the all-night sit-in on the House floor demanding action on gun safety. That’s where this interview starts: