OCEAN COUNTY/BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ - Barnegat Mayor John Novak was the first of the Republicans to announce his intentions to run for the CD-3 congressional seat currently occupied by Democratic Congressman Andy Kim. He formally filed while another candidate set up an exploratory committee.
Next, former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs moved from her exploratory committee to enter the race. And, just a couple of weeks ago, another Burlington County resident became the third challenger for the CD-3 seat. Tony Porto was a two-time mayor of Hainesport.
In some circles, three might already seem like a crowd. Apparently, that’s not the case for David Richter, who doesn’t even live in the third congressional district. His initial intentions were to seek a seat in the second congressional district. With President Trump throwing his support for Democrat turned Republican Jeff Van Drew, Richter seems to have changed plans.
Richter’s campaign website now states his aim to seek the Republican nomination as the representative for the third congressional district. Reportedly, he plans to sell his home in Princeton and move to Ocean County. The former CEO of Hill International started 2020 with $515K cash on hand for the CD-2 congressional race. That money easily transfers as part of federal campaign funds.
How do the other congressional candidates feel about yet another challenger? According to Novak, Richter was at the Stafford Republican Club last night trying to explain his sudden change in geography.
“Richter, who seems like a nice enough guy, went from being in business bed with the Bidens, not supporting Trump and bashing Van Drew to embracing both of them - seeming, if not literally, overnight,” Novak shared.
The Barnegat mayor, says he’s a lifelong resident of Ocean County, who has won three local elections. Novak dismissed the idea that Ocean County and Ocean County Republicans are for sale or for rent by Richter.
“He’s a county hopping, district shopping, flip-flopping, say anything, do anything bored multi-millionaire looking for something to do,” Novak continued. “Endorsements do not go to the highest bidder under our current leadership.”
Truth be told, Ocean County Republican Chairman Frank B. Holman hasn’t endorsed anyone for the nomination. Calls to his office for comment were not returned.
“Anyone who thinks they can push me around doesn’t know anything about South Jersey women,” declared Kate Gibbs in response to Richter’s announcement. “I was raised by a single mom who taught me how to stand up for myself and never back down from a challenge.”
According to federal election campaign records, Gibbs has over $138K as far as cash on hand towards the campaign. I’m not stepping aside for anybody,” she said. “Especially not a seat shopper who apparently believes he's entitled to party support — somewhere, anywhere.”
Locally, Gibbs was the guest speaker at the Ocean Township Republican Club’s Installation of Officers. Her Facebook page shows her posed with Township Committee members and the Township Attorney at Greenbriar in Waretown.
Meanwhile, Porto has his own opinions about Richter. "The last thing the Republican party needs is a nominee who brags about putting Joe Biden's brother on his Board of Directors for the same reason Burisma put Biden's son on theirs,” said Porto.
“David Richter resides in Princeton and has been donating thousands to democratic congressional and gubernatorial candidates over the years,” Porto continued. “We need to drain the swamp – not fill it with more sludge."
Contacted for comment, Kim spokesman Anthony D’Angelo said, “"We look forward to seeing who makes it through the large primary field. Meanwhile, Andy will continue to find bipartisan solutions to help our veterans and military, seniors, and small businesses in Burlington and Ocean counties.”
With President Trump here in town, it will be interesting to see if any of the third congressional district candidates get any mention. Maybe even a nod or endorsement? Time will tell.