The morning after his surprise victory in South Jersey’s Republican congressional primary, Seth Grossman took a walk on the beach in Atlantic City to clear his head.
He joked it was his four-hour vacation between the primary and the general election.
The 69-year-old Atlantic County attorney will square off against state Sen. Jeff Van Drew in November for the right to represent New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Grossman won the race over party establishment-backed candidate Hirsh Singh, former Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi and former FBI agent Bob Turkavage, capturing 39 percent of the vote. He defeated Singh, who was the favorite going into Tuesday, by about 2,200 votes.
Grossman, a staunch constitutional conservative, who is campaigning on supporting the Trump administration and the “Make America Great Again” agenda, made clear Wednesday that none of his views will change moving forward.
“I spent the last 20 to 30 years saying things and doing things, and I’m not going to change,” Grossman said. “I’m not going to get to Washington and say, ‘Oh jeez, this is more complicated than I thought.’ I’ve studied these issues, I know these issues and I know how to make changes.”
Grossman, a 1967 graduate of Atlantic City High School, went on to graduate from Duke University and Temple University Law School before becoming an attorney in Atlantic and Cape May counties.
Between 1975 and 1992, he created and ran the Chelsea Neighborhood Association in Atlantic City.
He was elected to Atlantic City Council as an independent in 1986, and then as an Atlantic County freeholder in 1988, serving one term.
It was his time in local government that changed him from a “John F. Kennedy Democrat” to a constitutional conservative, he said.
“The way I see it, government should be the referee,” Grossman said. “Everyone plays by the same exact rules, and whoever wins and loses, that’s how it is. You don’t go up and tell a referee that you are more deserving to win than someone else.”
Grossman said he doesn’t see the president as a constitutional conservative. Rather, he sees Trump as a guy who is finally pushing back against big government.
Grossman said the No. 1 issue facing America is an “unsustainable immigration system” and believes illegal immigration and chain migration must stop. He also believes that legal immigration must be scaled back.
“Our immigration system is tearing this country apart, and Trump is the one guy who pointed that out,” Grossman said.
This won’t be the first time Grossman will go against a well-funded and well-known political candidate. In 2013, he ran in the Republican primary against Gov. Chris Christie but received only 8 percent of the vote.
Still, Grossman believes his conservative message is finally being heard. And local Republicans are excited by the prospect of a conservative running in the general election.
“Seth is an old warhorse, and he worked extremely hard,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, a Republican, said Wednesday. “He’s an arch conservative and a constitutionalist. He stayed on topic and hammered his message home, and that played a role in his election.”
Keith Davis, chairman of the Atlantic County Republican Committee, said he admired Grossman’s grassroots campaign.
“There were signs for him everywhere, and he had a big group of volunteers working with him,” Davis said. “He knew how to convey his message, and that is key in a primary election when you have a low turnout.”
Outside of politics, Grossman runs a law firm in Atlantic City that has taken on a number of high-profile cases in the area.
He has also run Liberty and Prosperity, an educational nonprofit dedicated to the founding principles in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
In 2016, he sued Atlantic City to try to force the government to pass a balanced budget. The lawsuit also looked for the courts to declare that the payments in lieu of property taxes, known as the PILOT, that Atlantic City casinos are locked into are unconstitutional under New Jersey law.
After Grossman sued, the county joined and sued the state over the PILOT.
Last month, the lawsuit was settled, and the county is now going to receive about $37 million more than what it would have originally received from the casinos.
“Nothing is more obnoxious than taxing some people at a different rate than others,” Grossman said. “It was special treatment (for the casinos), and that was at the heart of our issue.”