GLEN ROCK, NJ - In a stunning announcement, democrat Councilwoman Arati Kreibich announced today she is challenging democrat Congressman Josh Gottheimer for the Democratic Party nomination in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District in June 2020.
Kreibich, 44, is a neuroscientist and has served 18 months as a member of Glen Rock's borough council.
Gottheimer, also 44, has a district office in Glen Rock, and according to Wikipedia, was a speechwriter for Bill Clinton and adviser to the presidential campaigns of Wesley Clark, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. He has also worked for Burson-Marsteller, the Federal Communications Commission, Ford Motor Company and Microsoft. In late 2016, he defeated incumbent Republican Scott Garrett in the congressional race for New Jersey's 5th District. His term is complete at the end of 2020.
TAPinto reached out to Gottheimer regarding the challenge and received several endorsements from political supporters as listed below.
In a statement from State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), she put forth the following: "I am a Progressive Democrat. But We represent the “big tent” party. We might disagree on some issues, but we must be respectful of the varied districts our congress members represent. Josh Gottheimer Is an excellent representative of the values and the politics of the district he represents. We need room in our party and in our country for the folks who believe In a society that is based on equality, but have differences along the way.
"Josh Gottheimer represents these values as shown by his votes to protect a woman’s right to choose, protect the civil rights of the LGBTQ community and all people of color, and stand by DREAMERS. He also has fought to fix our crumbling infrastructure, which is a big issue for me.
I’m looking forward to having Josh there in 2020 when we coalesce to defeat the President."
In a statement from Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano and Vice-Chairwoman Balpreet Grewal-Virk, they stated the following: “The Democratic Party has always welcomed diverse viewpoints under our Big Tent. However, let’s not forget how far we’ve come since the Fifth District was represented by an anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, anti-healthcare Tea Party extremist. We cannot lose sight of how many candidates tried and failed to win in the 5th and that Donald Trump won the district just two and a half years ago. The Fifth District could easily swing back if not for the hard work and dedication of our Congressman, Josh Gottheimer. We’re fortunate to have a Congressman that delivers for our communities and fights every day for our families. No matter your shade of blue, we must keep our eye on what's most important in 2020, winning back the White House and keeping control of the House of Representatives."
In yet another statement from John Currie, Passaic County Chairman/NJ State Democratic Chairman, he said the following: "Josh Gottheimer flipped the Fifth District when nobody thought it was possible and it is as important as ever that we keep the Fifth blue. It is quite possible that maintaining Democratic control of the house in 2020 will come down to what happens in New Jersey. The Fifth District could be the difference between having Democratic or Republican Speaker. We need the strongest possible candidate who can win a swing district that Trump won and that is Congressman Josh Gottheimer."
Katie Rotondi, Sussex County Democratic Chairwoman, said the following: “Josh Gottheimer has been a breath of fresh air for Sussex County. For over a decade, Democrats tried to defeat Republican Representative Scott Garrett whose oppressive policies were suffocating the county, but only Josh was successful in this fight because he made all Democrats a priority. His efforts on behalf of all our communities had resulted in Josh receiving a record number of votes for a Democratic congressional candidate. Whether Josh is successfully fighting to give Sussex County residents a higher return on their tax dollars, advocating for our municipalities to other government agencies in an effort to stop illegal activity that compromises the beauty and health of our rural area, or showing up himself to support victims of hate crimes; Josh is always working for and representing our Democratic ideals. I am a proud progressive who enthusiastically supports Josh Gottheimer.”
Tom Palmieri, Warren County Democratic Chairman, said the following: “What makes us so fortunate to have Josh Gottheimer in Congress is the time and effort he puts into fighting for us. That type of leadership is rare and why I’m proud to support Josh for reelection. I served as Chairman while Scott Garrett was our congressman, and I strongly oppose a primary that puts this seat and our values at risk.”
Kreibich disagrees with much of these assertions, calling Gottheimer a "human fundraising machine" who has lost touch with the people.
“We need to have the moral courage and conviction to stand up for what is right and what is fair,” Kreibich said in a video launching her campaign. “Our representatives should stand with people – not corporations.”
In an emailed press release, Kreibich said she "would not take donations from corporate political action committees, in contrast to Gottheimer’s campaign, which is fueled by big checks from the wealthy and special interests."
Kreibich supports the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, free tuition at public colleges and universities, and is in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. She opposes Gottheimer’s efforts to roll back critical regulations protecting us from the next financial crisis, and "the deal he negotiated in a backroom to hand $40 billion to Donald Trump and his immigration regime," according to her statement.
Kreibich was once an active Gottheimer supporter, according to her release, "joining other grassroots leaders in the belief that a Democrat in the 5th district could be a bulwark against the tide of Trumpism and the regressive policies that leave too many New Jersey families teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But, like many others, Kreibich found herself disappointed in how he’s spent his time in Congress," the press release states.
"He’s got one of the most pro-Trump records of any House Democrat in Washington, and when he comes home he refuses to explain his votes, hiding behind his position as a leader of the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus,” Kreibich said. “He seems more interested in creating roadblocks for big solutions than solving the problems that make life so tough for families in New Jersey. But you don’t get a nickname like ‘the Human Fundraising Machine’ without losing touch with the people.”
According to her press release, Kreibich came to the United States at age 11, "when her family moved from India in pursuit of the American dream. Kreibich’s path to achieving her own American dream was through education." She earned a doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to teach and conduct research in academia. She later educated clinicians on the latest research into neurologic disorders and became a scientific advisor to a non-profit working to treat muscular dystrophy.
In 2017, she was elected to Glen Rock's Borough Council, becoming the first South Asian member in its history.
Kreibich touts several issues as earning her a reputation as a "smart, effective Council member who has improved the Borough's budget process while also spearheading environmental initiatives such as transitioning the town's residences to sustainable energy sources, organizing a Borough-wide litter clean-up and installing electric car-charging stations," according to her release.
Kreibich said she "successfully gathered bipartisan support for her efforts, working to ensure both her Democratic and Republican council colleagues were on board."