One of the most anticipated congressional races in 2018 will be in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District, where the seat is currently held by Trump apologist Tom MacArthur. Several Democrats are lining up to vie for the party’s nomination.
In today’s Burlington County Times, Dave Levinsky (who is one of the best local reporters in the state) writes that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been speaking with two of the most prominent candidates so far – former Obama intelligence official Andy Kim and Moorestown attorney Katie Hartman. (I’ll be posting features on both of them over the next week). But I was surprised to read that the DCCC is also considering recruiting two prominent legislators who live outside the District – Assemblyman and future State Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt.
As Singleton always reminds me, even though he lives in Palmyra (District 1), he owns a home inside District 3. So he could conceivably shed the carpetbagger moniker should he decide to run. But his roots are deep in state politics, and I think his Senate run is but a step toward his goal of running for governor in the not too distant future. He’s only 43 years old, so he still has ample time to establish himself as one of the most competent and industrious members of the legislature.
Like Shelley Adler, who ran unsuccessfully against Jon Runyan, Lampitt lives in Cherry Hill, which was moved out of the Third District following the 2011 reapportionment. She is not well known in Ocean County, which has a slightly smaller portion of the district’s voters.
If the Democrats hope to win, they need to look eastward to Ocean County, not westward to Cherry Hill. They don’t need to carry Ocean if they get a big enough majority in Burlington, but they discount Ocean’s voters at their peril. A successful candidate needs to be or become well-known in Ocean County. Pam Lampitt would be a wonderful congresswoman, but there are also plenty of electable Democratic denizens of the district who have the potential of capturing the seat and can run unencumbered by the carpetbagger label. (Even though MacArthur didn’t move to the District until well after he took office.)
Levinsky mentions a few other potential contenders for the nomination in his article. The ever-ubiquitous Fred LaVergne (who captured the party line two years ago) will be trying again. A hospital association executive from Florence, NJ is toying with running, and I have spoken with a Moorestown social studies teacher and an Ocean County attorney who are also exploring a campaign for the nomination.
Working with the DCCC is a double-edged sword. If they think you can win, they provide your campaign with money and “free” labor. If they sense you are losing, they will withdraw their support faster than green grass through a goose. There are at least three good, solid candidates living within the District who can give TMac a run for his (vast) money. The DCCC (and the county committees) should back the best indigenous candidate and sent MacArthur back to his North Jersey roots.