Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew declared victory over his Republican rival Seth Grossman in the 2nd District congressional race Tuesday night.
Shortly after 10:01 p.m., Van Drew tweeted, “Thank you South Jersey!”
Moments later, his campaign issued a statement: “The tremendous victory underscores Jeff Van Drew’s broad appeal across South Jersey and his compelling message to take on the divisions gripping Capitol Hill.”
The win would return the seat to Democratic control after more than 20 years as a GOP seat, held by longtime incumbent Frank LoBiondo, who announced his retirement last year.
Van Drew took the stage at 10:30 p.m. at The Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City to give his victory speech.
Voters had to chose between Van Drew, 65, known for crossing the aisle during his long political career, and Grossman, 69, a staunch defender of President Donald Trump who favored a no-holds-barred conservative approach to governing.
Van Drew, a dentist from Dennis Township, has been considered a moderate for his defense of 2nd Amendment gun rights and pro-business stances. He has stressed his record while serving as a Dennis Township committeeman, on the Cape May County freeholder board and in Trenton.
Grossman, an Atlantic County attorney and former Atlantic City councilman, said he ran to support Trump and “expose the fake news” he said is threatening the president’s agenda.
He appeared just after 10 p.m. at Linwood Country Club after Van Drew declared victory and said he was concerned that he seems to be running behind. Grossman said he was disappointed with the get-out-the-vote effort among Republicans.
He held a 17-point lead over Grossman less than two weeks before the election, according to a Stockton University poll. But that poll showed a six-point gain for Grossman since the last Stockton poll released earlier this fall. It also found Grossman has support from 78 percent of Republicans, about a 13-point gain from the last poll.
The National Republican Congressional Committee had pulled its support of Grossman after inflammatory comments and Facebook posts he made were made public. The comments and posts largely centered on race and diversity and sometimes took aim at Affirmative Action, which Grossman generally doesn’t support.
On climate change and sea-level rise, Van Drew said the country cannot waste any more time ignoring the issues. Residents in the district — which includes much of the Jersey Shore and Delaware Bay — are on the front lines of the potentially devastating effects of climate change, and government has a role in helping them, according to Van Drew.
Van Drew said he has a 120-foot-high wind turbine on his property as well as solar panels, and is supportive of alternative energy. But he is also supportive of South Jersey Gas’ proposal to build a pipeline along roadsides through part of the protected Pinelands, in order to repower the B.L. England power plant in Upper Township to keep it in operation and protect jobs.
Grossman had argued the market should determine what happens as we adjust to a changing climate, saying those who are affected by flooding are people who “built expensive things in the wrong place using other people’s money.”
Van Drew favored giving the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. now a path to citizenship, then tightening the border, while Grossman supported building a wall at the Mexican border and deporting illegal immigrants who commit criminal acts, don’t learn English or don’t adjust to American life.