Republican businessman who wanted to challenge Van Drew will now challenge Kim

Posted: Updated:

A Republican businessman who had planned to challenge Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s seat in Congress has changed courses now that Van Drew switched parties from Democrat to Republican.

David Richter says that he will now enter the congressional race in New Jersey’s 3rd District, to seek the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Rep. Andy Kim.

“I campaigned hard for almost a year, built up a lot of support and friendships. And to watch those all transition over to Jeff Van Drew wasn't fun,” Richter says.

Van Drew was the only New Jersey Democrat to vote against impeaching President Donald Trump. That action earned Van Drew Trump’s praises. When Van Drew officially declared himself as a Republican, the party and the president endorsed him.

It even led Trump to hold a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Wildwood, in Van Drew’s District 2. Richter says that he knew that he was the odd man out.

RELATED: Van Drew officially leaves Democratic party, joins GOP 
RELATED: Democratic Rep. Van Drew draws praise from Trump, concern from constituents 

"After a couple of weeks, I realized the party, the Republican Party in South Jersey, the leadership was backing Jeff, and backing him almost completely,” Richter says. “And I realized that my path to the nomination had narrowed to just about zero.”

Richter will now run to represent Burlington and Ocean counties in Congress.

“The 3rd District is my home district. It's where I grew up,” Richter says. “I grew up in Willingboro. I worked in Willingboro and Evesham for more than 20 years in a family business. There's no other place in the world that's more my home than Burlington County.

The Constitution does not say that a congressional candidate needs to live in the district that they represent. But Richter says that he plans to sell his home in Lawrence and move to Ocean County.

“There was never any carpetbagger argument. People make that argument when they have nothing else to talk about,” he says.

But there are still several other Republican candidates vying for the nomination, including former GOP Freeholder Kate Gibbs, Barnegat Mayor John Novak and former Hainesport Mayor Anthony Porto.

"We are going to have a competitive Republican primary, which is a good thing. I believe in democracy and giving the voters a choice,” says Richter.

The primary will be held in June.

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