Amy Kennedy to face Jeff Van Drew in South Jersey congressional race

Educator and mental health advocate Amy Kennedy won the hotly contested Democratic primary to face Jeff Van Drew in N.J. 2nd Congressional District.

Amy Kennedy

Congressional candidate Amy Kennedy speaks at a protest in Wildwood, N.J., where President Trump was holding a rally on Jan. 28, 2020. (Amy Kennedy/Facebook)

Amy Kennedy, an educator and mental health advocate, won the heated Democratic primary race in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. She will now try to win the seat back for her party by ousting Republican Jeff Van Drew, who switched parties in December and easily beat his GOP primary opponent.

Kennedy, 41, grew up in the district and is married to former U.S. Rep Patrick Kennedy, who represented Rhode Island.

In her victory speech, she thanked Gov. Phil Murphy for supporting her campaign and her primary opponents for “[standing] up for what they believed in.”

“I look forward to working together to take on Jeff Van Drew and turn this district blue again in the fall,” she added.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Gov. Murphy introduced Kennedy to a socially-distanced crowd gathered in Northfield to celebrate the win. Murphy said the contest of Kennedy against Van Drew is “a contrast unlike any I can ever remember in my political life.”

“You have that guy who cut and run and you’ve got Amy Kennedy who is the real deal,” he said.

Brigid Callahan Harrison, a college professor, conceded the race to Kennedy. She said it was a disappointing night for her but is ready to unite with other Democrats to see Van Drew defeated.

“As Democrats, we now stand committed to putting the recent past behind us and unite to beat [Van Drew] in November,” she said.

Kennedy and Harrison were considered front-runners. The other candidates in the race, Will Cunningham, John Francis, and Robert Turkavage were significantly behind.

In another closely watched congressional primary in South Jersey, former construction executive David Richter leads former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs for the GOP nomination. They are running to take on incumbent Democrat Andy Kim, who was unopposed in the primary.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

While some results have been reported, it could be days for all of the ballots are counted in New Jersey’s nearly-all mail-in election. Gov. Murphy strongly urged voters to cast ballots by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few polling places were open for in-person voting through a provisional ballot. The number of people who opted to show up to polling places was low overall.  Many people who voted in-person either did not trust the mail to get their ballot in on time.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal