WASHINGTON, D.C. — Freshman Democrat Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D, NJ-2) and Andy Kim (D, NJ-3) triumphed in 2018, but 2020 looms large for both newly-minted representatives.
That’s according to veteran political prognosticator Larry Sabato who released his 2020 House ratings list on Friday. Kim’s seat is listed as a pure toss up; Van Drew’s is “lean Democrat.”
Kim skirted by the Republican incumbent with a 1.3-point victory margin last November. Van Drew’s margin in his sprawling, largely rural district was 7.7%, but he had been predicted to “walk” against a party-disowned, decisively underfunded Republican campaign in an open seat district. Both Democrats now represent districts which Donald Trump carried in 2016, and the president will back back atop the ballot in 2020, a fact which gives some Republican strategists reason for optimism.
In fact, Trump carried four House districts in N.J. (2, 3, 5 and 11) which are now represented by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives; the aforementioned strategists belive New Jersey will once again likely serve as a front-line battleground in the war for control of Capitol Hill.
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NJ-7 — the only N.J. district represented by a Republican (Leonard Lance) up until January 2019 (the freshman Democrat victor is Tom Malinowski) but lost by Trump in 2016 — is classified as “likely Democrat” by Sabato. Republican State Senate Leader Tom Kean, Jr. and conservative tax attorney Rosemary Becchi are both said to be considering challenges to the Malinowski.