Over the past several months, local Republicans saw some of their top choices to replace Frank LoBiondo in Congress decline to run for the seat, watched as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee criticized its four candidates in the primary, and discovered their presumptive favorite does not have the cash to self-fund his campaign.
Registered Republican voters on Tuesday will decide which of four candidates — Hirsh Singh, Sam Fiocchi, Seth Grossman and Bob Turkavage — will be the party’s nominee in November. LoBiondo, R-2nd, announced last year he would not seek re-election after more than 20 years in the House of Representatives.
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“Republicans have mobilized around the country recently, and I think it has to do with the economy,” said Keith Davis, chairman of the Atlantic County Republican Party. “Unemployment is near a record low, and America is going back to work. People see that and want to keep it going.”
Hirsh Singh, a businessman from Linwood, won the nomination in four of the district’s eight counties at the GOP conventions this spring. Two weeks ago, however, party leaders were surprised when Singh filed financial paperwork showing he had only about $100,000 in personal wealth. Singh told them he would raise $2 million by the November general election in part by funding his own campaign, party leaders said.
Singh’s campaign manager, Mike Burn, denies any such promise was made.
“We were given every indication that (Singh) could self-fund this campaign,” Davis said. “There is still time to go out and fundraise, so he still has a chance to go and get that money that was discussed.”
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Asked whether Atlantic County Republicans would consider rescinding its nomination of Singh for the primary, Davis said no one in the area has raised the issue.
“If one of the other candidates all the sudden has $1 million for their campaign, that could change things,” Davis said. “But that hasn’t happened yet.”
Elsewhere, Atlantic County attorney Seth Grossman and former FBI agent Bob Turkavage have been campaigning for the primary with very different messages.
Grossman, who was once a freeholder in Atlantic County, has a very pro-Donald Trump agenda. His campaign signs say “Support Trump” in big letters right under his name.
“In my opinion, the most important issue is bringing unsustainable immigration under control, and President Trump is the only one who has put this issue front and center,” Grossman said. “Our current immigration laws are a recipe for national suicide.”
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Turkavage, who worked for the FBI for more than three decades, has opposed the president on many fronts, including immigration and fiscal policies.
In January, he called on Congress to pass a bill that would grant permanent status for people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“It is my position that the welfare of innocent children in the United States, be they American-born or foreign-born, should not be used as a negotiating tool by either side to advance their agendas,” Turkavage said in a statement at the time.
“I consider myself first and foremost an American,” Turkavage said Wednesday. “I want to do right for this country and for our community.”
Sam Fiocchi has the most political experience of any of the Republican candidates, which he says gives him the advantage.
Fiocchi served as an assemblyman in the 1st Legislative District from 2014 to 2016 and was a freeholder in Cumberland County from 2011 to 2013.
“I’ve fought the hard battles against the Democrats,” Fiocchi said in a recent statement. “When I announced for freeholder, no one thought I could win, and I did. When I announced for Assembly, no one thought I would win, and I did.”