Wilingboro Native Files to Run for Van Drew’s 2nd District Seat in Congress

David Richter, the wealthy former CEO of Hill International, announced Monday he had filed the required paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to challenge for Van Drew’s 2nd District seat.

August 13, 2019 - David Levinsky
Burlington County Times

The former chief executive of one of the nation’s largest construction firms is officially joining the Republican field seeking to challenge for Democrat Jeff Van Drew’s congressional seat next year.

David Richter, the wealthy former CEO of Hill International, announced Monday he had filed the required paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to challenge for Van Drew’s 2nd District seat. Two other Republicans, Bob Patterson, of Haddonfield, and Brian Fitzherbert, of Egg Harbor, have also filed to run for the GOP nomination in the district, which includes all of Cape May, Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic counties plus parts of Camden, Gloucester, Ocean and Burlington.

The Burlington portion is made up of Bass River and Washington.

Richter, 53, is a native of Burlington County, having spent most of his childhood living in Willingboro before moving with his family to Cherry Hill, where he graduated high school. He now lives in Princeton, Mercer County, but plans to move to Avalon in the 2nd District.

Hill International also has deep ties to the county. It was founded in 1976 by Richter’s father, Irv Richter, in Willingboro, and had its headquarters there and then Evesham before moving to Center City in Philadelphia in 2015. The company began as a private firm with less than 300 employees. It is now the 8th largest construction management firm in the U.S. with more than 4,300 employees across the globe.

Richter, who holds engineering and law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as advanced degrees from Harvard and Oxford, worked for the company for 22 years. He started as a general counsel before rising to group president and chief operating officer to CEO. He retired in 2017.

The political website, New Jersey Globe, was the first to report on Richter back in March when it reported that he was mulling a challenge against Van Drew, a longtime Democratic state legislator who won the district’s open congressional seat last year against Republican Seth Grossman.

The seat became open after Republican Frank LoBiondo announced he would retire.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Richter criticized Van Drew’s record while promising to be a “real conservative” voice in Congress while also fighting for infrastructure funding and a clean environment and coastline.

“Jeff Van Drew has completely failed South Jersey voters. He spent over a decade supporting the Democratic majority in the state Legislature and making New Jersey one of the highest-taxes and most anti-business states in the country,” Richter said. “Now, after running as a conservative Democrat, Van Drew has voted in Washington with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nearly 90% of the time.”

“We need a real conservative in Congress who will work hard for smaller government, lower taxes and secure borders, and who will fight to protect, not undermine, our constitutional rights,” he added.

Michael Muller, a spokesman for Van Drew’s re-election campaign, responded by welcoming Richter to the district and the Republican primary race.

“I hope its an enjoyable experience for him as he gets to know the people of South Jersey and their issues and vies against several Republicans in the nomination process,” Muller said.

While the 2020 election may seem far off, both incumbents and potential challengers are already hard at work raising funds and support for what’s expected to be a huge election year with the White House race at the top of the ballot. And the 2nd District is one of several congressional districts that are projected to have competitive races.

The Washington D.C.-based Cook Political Report has rated the 2nd as “leans Democrat,” its second most competitive rating behind “toss up.” Only 3rd District incumbent Democrat Andy Kim is projected to have a tougher contest in New Jersey.

No Republicans have announced or filed paperwork with the FEC yet to challenge Kim.