GOP candidate who said Rep. Andy Kim is ’not one of us’ doesn’t live in the district

07/23/2021

Politico

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) speaks during a House committee hearing. 

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The Republican candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 3rd District who said in a campaign ad that incumbent Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, an Asian American, is “not one of us” is not a resident of the district.

Tricia Flanagan, a previously unsuccessful GOP primary candidate for U.S. Senate, lives in Lawrenceville, Mercer County, which is in New Jersey’s heavily-Democratic 12th District — one Republicans have virtually no chance of winning in the general election.

The 3rd District, which encompasses parts of heavily Republican Ocean County and Democrat-trending Burlington County and stretches from the Jersey Shore to the Philadelphia suburbs, is far more competitive. Lawrenceville is about 14 miles away from the closest part of the 3rd District.

“I’ve lived in Lawrenceville for about five years,” Flanagan said in a phone interview Friday. “I do have a quarter-century relationship with the New Jersey shore. My kids have played there their entire lives. We have an intimate relationship with the folks there, too. We have extended family.”

Flanagan, who said she runs a pharmaceutical consulting business, said she also has business ties to the 3rd District.

“It’s not about geographic residence. It’s about your relationship with CD3. That’s the exact point that was taken out of context by Andy Kim,” she said. “He played the race card because I called him out on his not being representative of CD3 interests. President [Donald] Trump won that district twice. He won it in 2016 and he won it in 2020. And Andy Kim voted for impeachment, twice.”

Kim declined to comment on Flanagan.

The controversial campaign ad features Flanagan, who’s considered a long shot for the GOP nomination, talking about her pro-Trump credentials. Of Kim, she says, “He doesn’t represent the people in our district. He doesn’t represent our interests. He’s not one of us. This is MAGA country. We supported our president. Andy Kim voted for impeachment, twice.”

The statement in the new ad by Flanagan drew an immediate response from Kim, who tweeted that he’s heard “these hurtful words many times as an Asian American and your use in a campaign for Congress disrespects me and many AAPIs.”

During Kim’s first run in 2018, the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund also ran an ad claiming he was “not one of us.”

Trump carried the 3rd District twice but by an extremely narrow margin in 2020. Kim won in his first term in 2016 thanks to anti-Trump backlash, defeating incumbent Republican Tom MacArthur, who was then New Jersey’s most pro-Trump member of Congress. Kim won reelection by a comfortable margin in 2018 against David Richter, a wealthy former business executive who also took a pro-Trump tone during the campaign.

Flanagan would not be alone in being an outsider to the district.

Kim grew up in the 3rd District, but lived in Washington, D.C., before returning to his native Burlington County to run against MacArthur.

MacArthur was the mayor of Randolph, in North Jersey’s Morris County, before moving to the 3rd District to run for Congress. Richter lived in Princeton, which, like Lawrenceville, is in the 12th District.

At least two other Republicans — boat company executive Robert Healey, Jr. and Mount Holly school board member Will Monk — have also said they’re either running or are likely to run in the 3rd District.

Members of Congress are not required to live in the districts they represent — just the state. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), who represents the 11th District in Central Jersey, drew criticism during her first campaign in 2018 for living on the neighboring 10th District. Her hometown, Montclair, is split between the 10th and 11th districts.

Asked if she planned to move to the 3rd District if elected, Flanagan did not answer directly.

“As most people that love the New Jersey shore, they’ve got a residence there,” she said. “Some are snowbirds, some live in Florida part of the time, some live throughout the state. So I don't think it’s a matter of a primary residence, it’s a matter of a primary interest in that district succeeding.”

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-07-26 03:19:28 -0700