Blue Wave Washes Over NJ as Kim Defeats MacArthur… Probably
TOMS RIVER — A week after the election, no winner has yet been declared in the 3rd congressional district race between Democrat Andy Kim and Republican Tom MacArthur — leaving open, but just barely, the question of how heavy New Jersey's Blue Wave was.
There isn't much of a path left for MacArthur to win. Kim, who has already himself the winner, has a 3,400 vote lead, with 6,700 provisional votes yet to be counted. Most of the remaining ballots are from Burlington County, which is expected to favor Kim.
Kim was bolstered by votes in his Democratic-leaning home county of Burlington, which gave him 101,903 votes to MacArthur's 69,090.
Ocean County, a GOP stronghold, gave MacArthur 76,868 votes to Kim's 46,677.
In total, Kim had 49.8 percent to MacArthur's 48.9 counted so far. A third-party candidate, Lawrence Berlinski, got 3,815 votes in all of those counted so far.
Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella said that the Board of Elections will meet on Wednesday to review the provisional ballots. Provisional ballots are used by voters when there is a problem at the polls that is later investigated. Colabella expects them to be counted and added to the vote total by Thursday.
The Burlington County Board of Elections did not return a message.
A Kim campaign spokesperson told the New Jersey Globe he is attending an orientation for incoming representatives in Washington on Tuesday. Democrats Jeff Van Drew, Tom Malinowski and Mikie Sherrill will also be at the session.
Kim doesn't really need a concession from MacArthur to prepare to take office, according to Ben Dworkin of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship. Unless the incoming and outgoing representatives are from the same party, there usually isn't a formal transition. And a concession doesn't have any formal meaning for the election itself.
"There’s not a lot of hand holding that goes on in these kind of transitions. Everybody comes in, sets up their new office," Dworkin said. "There are any number of experienced people out there who will tell you how to do it, which is why these freshman members of congress will go up to the Kennedy School in order to learn how to do it."
The Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress, considered the the preeminent educational and preparatory program for newly elected reps, takes place at the Harvard Kennedy School in Massachusetts.
Dworkin also makes the case for MacArthur not conceding the race: The votes have to be voted.
"It is unlikely at this point, according to most observers, that there’s any real path to victory for MacArthur. Kim is free to go to Harvard and get trained as a new congressman. If somehow MacArthur pulls this out, which I think nobody really expects, then Kim has a bit of an education that he’ll never get to use," Dworkin said.
Neither the Kim nor MacArthur campaigns returned messages Tuesday.
Kim's likely win gives Democrats 11 seats in the House of Representatives, along with two U.S. Senators. Robert Menendez, the state's senior senator, won re-election last week as Democratic challengers flipped four House races in the state, helping solidify the Democratic takeover of the House.
If the Kim win is made official, Republicans in New Jersey now have just a single congressman, Chris Smith in the 4th District.
Kim, who lives with his wife and two young children in the Marlton section of Evesham, ran on a platform of opposing MacArthur's support of President Donald Trump's campaign to eliminate Obamacare. MacArthur authored an amendment to a law that criticis said would have weakened insurance protections for people with preexisting medical conditions.
MacArthur also was the only New Jersey congressman, Democrat or Republican, to support the Republicans' tax reform, which capped state and local tax deductions at $10,000 — a provision that will hurt residents of wealthy, high-tax states like New Jersey.
MacArthur, a former pharmaceutical executive who once served as mayor of Randolph in North Jersey before he moved south, ran on a record of supporting gun restrictions and immigration reform. His campaign also accused Kim of inflating his resume.
Kim served as the National Security Council’s director for Iraq under President Obama and served as an advisor Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen in Afghanistan.
MacArthur won his previous two congressional elections with solid margins. In 2016, he had more than 59 percent of the vote. In 2014, he had more than 53 percent.
Each campaign raised and spent millions. According to figures from October, MacArthur had raised $4.4 million while Kim had raised $5.2 million.