Latest Cook Report ratings: 2020 NJ-02, NJ-03 races are ‘toss-up’ contests

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Cook Political Report, a mainstay of American political prognostication, says two of New Jersey’s hotly contested 2020 House districts are hosting ‘toss up’ races.

The latest ratings (click here) released Friday project toss-up battles in NJ-02 and NJ-03 where freshman Democrats Jeff Van Drew and Andy Kim, respectively, must defend their seats next November in territory where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Kim’s likely Republican opponent is former Burlington County Freeholder Katie Gibbs, a millennial woman with deep ties to private sector labor. Republicans hope Trump’s presence on the ticket will buoy turnout in the Ocean portion of the district while Gibbs’s history in Burlington can blunt expected suburban deficits there.

The Van Drew opposition is currently a three-way contest on the GOP side. One of only two Democrats nationally to vote against the impeachment inquiry, Van Drew’s former LD1 legislative district team got wiped out by their Republican challengers in last week’s off-cycle election, an ominous sign for the incumbent who won a slim single-digit victory in 2018.

Three other districts are still in play.

NJ-11 (Sherrill) and NJ-05 (Gottheimer) are “likely” Democrat districts per Cook; both Democrat candidates have drawn strong Republican challengers – most recently this week’s entry of transportation mogul Jerry Langer in 11 – but both incumbents also sit on formidable campaign war chests.

NJ-07 (the sole former GOP district as of 2016 on this list to back Hillary Clinton) is “likely Democrat.” Freshman Tom Malinowski’s most likely opponent is state Senator Tom Kean Jr. but another GOP candidate Rosemary Becchi is attempting to rock the primary boat.