Hot Air

Kennedy wife announces challenge against Van Drew for NJ seat

The wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (son of Ted) has jumped into the Democrat primary for the 2nd district in New Jersey. If that district sounds familiar, it is because it was in the news a lot at the end of 2019. Rep. Jeff Van Drew currently represents the district. He switched from the Democrat Party to the GOP in December.

Van Drew has drawn several challengers on the Democrat side. Now the Kennedy dynasty is entering the race with one of their own. Amy Kennedy released a video announcing her candidacy Monday.

What I see in that video is a candidate who knows exactly who she needs to win over to get elected – other women. She goes straight to our “moral compass” with a photo of Van Drew and Trump. She includes the soccer mom lingo of showing kindness, treat others with respect, and show compassion. All of this is heard in every household with kids every day. Then she pivots to the economy. She says people in south Jersey can’t find jobs. According to this chart, unemployment is higher in south New Jersey than the northern part of the state where it is more industrialized. The ‘richest corporations” she references are located further north. South New Jersey is more rural and always has been. Back in my college days, my first roommate was from Bridgeton. Her family owned a farm and her parents were active Republicans. In other words, it is traditionally a conservative part of New Jersey. Apparently, Kennedy thinks that inserting some far-left class warfare into the race is the way to go.

She speaks to the deregulation of the energy industry and mentions climate change. She’s really checking off all the boxes, isn’t she? She goes on to mention the mental health and addiction epidemic, too. “We continue to ignore the biggest public health emergency of our time — the mental health and addiction crisis that affects virtually every family.” Well, at least she didn’t succumb to the opinion of the most woke among us and say that climate change is the biggest emergency of our time. That will probably come later.

The video overall will certainly appeal to the audience for which she strives. She’s a former teacher and the mother of five. She’s the mom next door. She can fight the patriarchy and the bad Orange Man without breaking a sweat. Liberal voters are not prone to hold Kennedys morally accountable as they do conservatives. Conservatives see the irony of a Kennedy lecturing about the loss of morality in public life but liberals do not. We only have to look to the career of her father-in-law to see that.

“Too many of our leaders have lost their moral compass,” Kennedy said in the video. “Trump and Van Drew are symptoms of a bigger sickness affecting our country and our politics. Doing what’s right shouldn’t be complicated. Treat one another with respect, show some compassion, look out for others.”

Mrs. Kennedy faces some competition in the Democrat primary, though none have the advantage of the Kennedy name, so there’s that.

Brigid Callahan Harrison, a professor who teaches political science at Montclair State University, announced her candidacy the same week Mr. Van Drew said he would join the Republicans, a shift that prompted most of his staff members to quit.

Professor Harrison was quickly endorsed by many of the Democratic Party leaders in the district who hold sway over whose name will appear on the party’s coveted ballot line.

Ashley Bennett, a freeholder representing Atlantic County who appeared on the cover of Time magazine with other progressive women, also has announced she would run for the Democratic nomination for the congressional seat.

Ms. Bennett has said she intends to focus on issues affecting New Jersey’s working class, and is likely to draw support from the state’s increasingly active grass-roots organizations.

John Francis III, a commissioner in West Cape May, and Robert Turkavage, a former F.B.I. agent who last month switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, have also announced they will run in the Democratic primary.

We’ll see if the voters in New Jersey wish to continue on with the Kennedy dynasty with one of their own representatives in Congress. Trump won the district by 5 points in 2016. No doubt he will campaign for Van Drew if necessary.

NOTE: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the candidate as the ex-wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy. This has been corrected.

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