Republican seeking to challenge Van Drew raises nearly $413K

A Republican former business executive who hopes to challenge freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew next year in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District has raised more than $400,000…

October 7, 2019 - Matt Friedman
Politico

A Republican former business executive who hopes to challenge freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew next year in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District has raised more than $400,000 — the bulk of it from his own pocket — since announcing his campaign in mid-August.

David Richter, the former CEO of Hill International, a construction consulting firm, raised $412,760 — $112,760 from donors and $300,000 from a self-loan, according to his campaign filings.

In 2018, after 24-year incumbent Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo retired, the GOP struggled to recruit viable and well-funded candidates to run in the large, mainly rural South Jersey district. They’re having no such trouble this year. Richter is one of three Republicans seeking the party‘s nomination and is banking on a fundraising show of force.

“It is imperative that our party nominates a candidate who can run a well-funded, first-class campaign against Jeff Van Drew, who is one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in Congress,” Richter said in a statement. “President [Donald] Trump won the district by five points in 2016 and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin won it by ten points it in 2018, while Van Drew barely won the district despite outspending his Republican opponent by more than six-to-one.”

Although the district was one of four in New Jersey that flipped from Republican to Democratic control in 2018, Trump is more popular there than in the three other more northern districts where party control flipped.

As he did during his nearly two decades as a state lawmaker, Van Drew has sought to de-emphasize his party ties. He is one of a handful of Democratic House members opposed to the impeachment inquiry against Trump, and recently saw his words against impeachment from a Fox News appearance tweeted by the president.

Nevertheless, Richter said, Van Drew “is voting against the interests of small and family-owned businesses, he is voting against the interests of law-abiding gun owners, and he is voting against the interests of working families.”

Richter’s donations include $1,000 from TMAC PAC, which is the leadership PAC of former U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), who for four years represented South Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District before being unseated last year. MacArthur was Trump’s closest ally in New Jersey’s House delegation.

Richter grew up in Willingboro and Cherry Hill and recently lived well north of the district in Princeton. According to his campaign, he moved to Avalon, which is in the 2nd District, on Saturday.

According to Richter’s campaign bio, he started his career as a lawyer and joined Hill International as general counsel in 1995. He spent 22 years there, eventually becoming CEO.

His campaign website calls for cutting taxes and balancing the budget, and blames Democrats for “recklessly putting the rights of illegal immigrants ahead of both our own citizens and those seeking to become U.S. citizens lawfully.”

Richter is the first candidate in the district to announce his latest fundraising totals. His main primary rival, Brian Fitzherbert, raised $17,000 in the previous quarter that ended June 30. The other declared Republican candidate, Robert Patterson, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the neighboring 1st District in 2016, has not declared raising any money yet.

Van Drew has not yet reported how much he raised in the last quarter. He raised about $750,000 during the first six months of 2019 — $313,000 of which came from PACs — and as of June 30 had just under $546,000 on hand.

The 2nd District includes all or parts of eight South Jersey counties.