Decision 2020: Andy Kim vs. David Richter (NJ-03)

Flavia Scotto ’22

NY-03. Mr. Matté via Wikimedia Commons.

On November 3, New Jersey will elect twelve U.S. Representatives, one for each congressional district. Of particular interest is District 3, which includes parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties. Andy Kim, a Democrat, is the incumbent who faces re-election against David Richter, an engineer, lawyer, and former CEO of Hill International.

The district is one of particular focus for both parties. It went blue for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 before opting for Donald Trump in 2016. Interestingly enough, it was one of thirty congressional districts who did so, yet it is currently represented by a Democrat. It is also important to note that Kim only narrowly won in 2018 with 50% percent of the vote as compared to his opposition’s 49% percent. These factors may explain why there does not yet seem to be a clear indication of who will win, despite the election being less than a month away. Presently, many websites suggest that the majority of New Jerseyans will vote for Kim, while many more polls predict it to be a toss-up.

Andy Kim. House of Representatives via Wikimedia Commons.

There are many factors to consider this year which make this election all the more compelling. Firstly, many undecided voters are likely following how Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination plays out, how President Trump reacts to his coronavirus diagnosis, and if a vaccine is indeed released to the public by what would be its earliest announced possible dates. Richter was quoted as saying Republican voters will likely not split their tickets and he hopes his unwavering support for Donald Trump solidifies straight-ticket voting. Here, he acknowledges the power of down ballot races, also known as the coattail effect, which normally occurs during a presidential election where a member of a popular political party brings out voters who also advocate for lower-level candidates of the same party.

David Richter. Via Ballotpedia.

Furthermore, the Democrats are disadvantaged at their inability to campaign door to door, so the Republicans may enjoy this leveraging of the playing field in that most campaigning is taking place virtually. Still, there are many advantages currently being enjoyed by Kim; New Jersey witnessed an increase of 16,000 registered Democrats while his campaign has amassed a campaign fund of nearly five million dollars. This is quite boastful compared to that of Richter’s campaign, which is just shy of a million dollars. Additionally, Richter has received criticism for not living within the Third District as well as his history as a big businessman. He refers to himself as a political outsider in the likeness of Donald Trump, promising to champion many of the same issues using the rhetoric of law and order and bringing back jobs. Kim has been described as a moderate, although has not made a large name for himself outside of a couple veterans bills he authored himself.

Their debate, on October 4th, will help voters to better understand where each candidate stands on particular issues and what matters to them moving forward. Polling within the next couple of weeks may help to better depict what is to come, although many people are wary of polls given the outcome of the 2016 election.