Atlantic County attorney Seth Grossman turned local Republican committees on their heads when he won the primary in an upset over Hirsh Singh last week.
But for Democrats, everything is going as planned.
State Sen. Jeff Van Drew handily defeated challengers Tanzie Youngblood, Will Cunningham and Nate Kleinman to take the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District.
With Grossman’s win, experts and national publications are now classifying the 2nd Congressional District as one of the most likely areas in the country to flip from Republican to Democratic control in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Democratic strategists got what they wanted when moderate State Sen. Jeff Van Drew demolished more liberal opponent Tanzie Youngblood in the primary, 55 percent to 19 percent,” an analysis from the Cook Report said. “Van Drew, a dentist, has been an overwhelmingly popular legislator from Cape May County, the most Republican part of (the district). He’s raised $631,000 and has backing from labor groups that supported LoBiondo for years.”
The Cook Report, a nationally recognized and independent publication that analyzes elections and campaigns, also said the Republican primary candidates in South Jersey were among the weakest in the country, which matched comments made by the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Campaign last month.
“Trump carried the district, but Republicans are all but waving a white flag and this is now one of the likeliest Democratic pickups in the country,” the analysis said.
Van Drew did not return a request for comment Monday.
Mike Suleiman, chairman of the Atlantic County Democratic Party, said Van Drew has to continue to do what he has done in past elections to win this race, which includes showing up at events, placing signs everywhere and knocking on doors.
He also cautioned all Democrats not to take this race for granted over Grossman, who is well-known around Atlantic County and has campaigned in the other seven counties in the 2nd Congressional District.
“We underestimated (President Donald Trump) in 2016 and it cost us dearly,” Suleiman said. “I personally will never take a candidate or race for granted ever again after seeing what happened in 2016.”
The three candidates Van Drew defeated in the primary, Tanzie Youngblood, Nate Kleinman, and Will Cunningham, have not endorsed him, but Suleiman said there is still a lot of time for that.
“It’s only been a week and they all worked really hard,” Suleiman said. “Hopefully everyone will come around and we can flip this seat.”