Rep. Josh Gottheimer has likely been planning on being in Congress for a very long time. He is seen as a protegee of the Clintons, and Hillary even saying “he is something of a family member”. I don’t hold his ties to the Clinton family against him — in fact it is good that he has some powerful friends to rely on because politics ain’t beanbag. Anyways, here is more about Gottheimer.
- He has been behind the scenes in politics for a very long time, serving as a Senate page, a speechwriter for Bill Clinton, a policy advisor for quite a few presidential campaigns, and even more behind the scenes positions.
- He did find time to go to college, where he graduated from both Harvard Law School and Oxford University with a PhilD in modern history. Those universities are all about making connections, and Gottheimer has oodles of connections.
- He has been in and out of both governmental and corporate positions for most of his remaining time after 2004. He worked for Ford Motor Company, a prominent public relations firm where he made executive vice president, the FCC, and Microsoft.
It was really tough writing this section, because just like Cuellar he has no issues page on his campaign website. Plus, he has actively tanked many agenda items behind the scenes. There are a few things though he is a really important voice on, and luckily he is prominent enough I can write them.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer has a DW Nominate score of -0.15, making him the second most conservative Democrat in the House behind Rep. Jared Golden, who is defending a R+6 district in Maine. Golden has an excuse to vote this way… what is Gottheimer’s excuse?
Tax Reform: While a little too cozy with Republican tax cuts, Gottheimer also is the #1 champion in Congress of undoing TFG’s SALT deduction removal. States like New Jersey rely on high state and local taxes to fund services, and the cost of living is too much without the SALT deduction.
Defending Democracy: Gottheimer has consistently warned of the threat of MAGA and of lone wolf terrorists, even going so far as writing legislation to fight against them. He also supported the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and would likely do so again if brought before then House.
Abortion and LGBTQ+ Rights: Gottheimer is 100% pro-choice, and was aghast at the Dobbs decision. He would be a solid vote to codify abortion rights into law, whatever his other horrible positions on issues are. He is also solid on LGBTQ+ issues, as that is how he defeated an incumbent in 2016.
Recent Elections —
2020 President: Joe Biden (D) 55.6%, TFG (R-inc) 43.2%
2020 House: Josh Gottheimer (D-inc) 53.2%, Frank Pallotta (R) 45.6%
2022 PVI: D+4
2022 Race Rating: Likely Democratic
This district has traditionally connected suburban Bergen County with more rural portions of the state of New Jersey. Until 2016, this district has had Republican representation since 1930. I truly am grateful that Gottheimer defeated the horrible bigot former Rep. Scott Garrett, but in my honest opinion he has overstayed his welcome in Congress.
Why do I say that? Gottheimer is fine from a district TFG won in 2016, and that Biden barely won in 2020. He is a perfect representative for a marginal seat such as the onw he won in 2016. Moderate to conservative, close ties to Wall Street, socially liberal — a 1990s Democrat in other words. That is what his previous district would allow and that is what positions he took.
Now, he has a much better district to run in, it is one that Hillary Clinton won, and Biden won quite comfortably (but not too comfortable, or otherwise a progressive primary challenge would succeed). He is likely out of step with the politics of his new district. I also don’t see him as someone who will tack to the left in response to his new district. He will likely stay moderate to conservative when similar districts can elect progressive Democrats. It is frustrating, and as you will see below, there isn’t much we can do about it.
Political Tour of the District
The district has shifted to the east after 2020 redistricting. Instead of Gottheimer getting the marginal district to match his politics, Rep. Tom Malinowski got shafted instead. Gottheimer gets a nearly safe district he will likely win and still be a thorn in our sides.
Here’s where this race will be won in the 5th district.
- Eastern Bergen County: This area is reliably blue, and Gottheimer will cruise to an easy win in the towns in the southern and middle part of the county. He does have to watch out to make sure that he doesn’t tank the Biden agenda too much more, or he risks turning off these voters.
- Western Bergen County: The suburbs here are more swingy, and some of them even voted for TFG. This is the home base of Gottheimer, and he will likely overperform in these areas as these are the constituents he truly is used to representing.
Here’s where we need to keep the margins down, or we lose.
- Passaic County: Only the northern townships are included in the district, and being more rural means that they are more conservative. There are some blue precincts even out here, so Gottheimer likely will be competitive in this section of the district still.
- Sussex County: Gottheimer had many of the rural problem counties removed from his district, but Sussex (mostly) still remains. Gottheimer, even though he is moderate, isn’t likely to carry the county or win very many votes out there. He doesn’t need to with Bergen County being there for him now.
Activism — Help How You Can!
Gottheimer, with his Wall Street ties and Clinton connections, is a fundraising beast. In a race that isn’t as competitive as previous ones, he still raised $1.24 MILLION in Quarter 2. His GQP opposition cannot hold a candle to that, as Frank Pallotta only raised a piddling $142k for the quarter. If money buys elections, then this one will NOT be competitive.
What is more reassuring (and worrying for a future primary challenge) is the war chest of Gottheimer. He has $14 MILLION cash on hand, which is enough for a statewide campaign, even in New Jersey. Pallotta has less money on hand… a laughable $64k of it. Gottheimer does NOT need your donation, but I will still point you to the top and bottom of this article if you wish to donate.
For me, Gottheimer and Cuellar (and Sinema) are on my very short DO NOT DONATE list, all for similar reasons.
Gottheimer can buy his way into Congress and possibly even the Senate, but what he cannot buy is grassroots enthusiasm and volunteers. He will need those volunteers to canvass, text and phone bank, and do all sorts of tasks if he is to have a political future. Volunteer below if you are in northern New Jersey, because this is the most competitive race near you.
In terms of social media, his campaign Twitter account has 8k followers and his official Twitter account has 19.9k followers, both of which are lower than I expected. After wading through disinfectant and too many “bipartisan kumbaya” tweets, I found one not as objectionable…
He also has a FaceBook account at josh4congress and an Instagram account at joshgottheimerforcongress. I refuse to look at either one. Can you tell that I don’t like him?
With an improved district, tons of fundraising money, and the New Jersey political machinery behind him, we are likely stuck with Rep. Josh Gottheimer for a long time. My fear is that he runs statewide and wins, where he will be a MAJOR downgrade over virtually any other politician. Until then, he will likely hold the 5th district of New Jersey when a more progressive option would be viable now. I may be harsh to him, but you can be a moderate and not an ass to our agenda. A lesson I hope he learns.
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Josh Gottheimer for New Jersey-5
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