Van Drew, who switched party for Trump, declares victory
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who was elected two years ago as a Democrat before switching his allegiance to President Donald Trump, has declared victory in the 2nd Congressional District. But his challenger has not conceded and her campaign still expected to pull an upset vicory.
The Republican had a 10,000-vote lead with mail-in ballots counted in the eight South Jersey counties that make up the district.
"As you all know, the polls closed almost two hours ago, and ballots are still being counted," Amy Kennedy said in a written statement. "I have said from the beginning of this campaign that it is important that every vote be counted and every voice heard and as we expected, it looks like that process will continue beyond tonight."
Her campaign said that Kennedy is leading the votes in Democratic bastions of Atlantic and Cumberland counties.
"At the end of the day when all the votes are counted, we are confident Amy Kennedy will be elected to Congress," campaign manager Josh Roesch said late Tuesday night.
If Van Drew is ultimately successful, he and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith would be the only Republicans from New Jersey in Congress.
Van Drew, switching parties last December, declared his "undying support" for Republican President Donald Trump, but has since said "the words didn't explain as well what I exactly felt."
Also competing are Libertarian Jesse Ehrnstrom and Justice Mercy Humility candidate Jenna Harvey.
See here throughout Election Day and Night for updates, as well as unofficial results as they come in. Results will not include provisional ballots cast on Election Day, and may not include all mail-in or machine votes.
UPDATE 9:35 p.m.: With partial results from mail-in ballots in each county that makes up the 2nd Congressional district, Van Drew holds onto his lead over Kennedy, 141,197 to 131,335.
UPDATE 9:15 p.m.: Van Drew maintains a lead over challenger, Kennedy, 132,546 to 118,717 with the earliest round of mail-in ballots counted in Atlantic, Cape May, Burlington, Gloucester, Salem and Ocean Counties.
UPDATE 8:40 p.m.:With the earliest round of mail-in ballots counted in Atlantic, Gloucester and Ocean Counties, Rep. Van Drew is ahead of Kennedy, 89,300 to 87,615. The 2nd Congressional District also includes all or parts of Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Burlington and Camden counties. The tabulated votes do not include any provisional ballots and not all mail-in ballots.
UPDATE, 3 p.m.: Ben Dworkin, the director of the Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship at Rowan University, said there's a great deal of interest in the race, as Van Drew voted against Trump's impeachment and switched parties amid a storm of anger and protest from his former party.
The two candidates have raised and spent a combined $10 million on the race.
Dan Bowen, the chair of the political science department at the College of New Jersey, said the No. 1 issue in the race is Trump — and whether people support him.
Kennedy did not campaign yesterday or today in person because she’s self-quarantining after interacting with someone last weekend who has since tested positive for COVID-19 although she’s tested negative and has no symptoms.