Republican businessman David Richter will switch from running against Democrat-turned-Republican Jeff Van Drew in New Jersey’s 2nd district to take on Representative Andy Kim in New Jersey’s 3rd, with an official announcement expected Monday.
Richter has been telling New Jersey Republicans of the plan Monday morning, with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie a key player in orchestrating the shift, according to the New Jersey Globe.
Richter, who was widely viewed as the frontrunner to unseat the former Democrat, has been outspoken in his criticism of Van Drew’s shift, casting the decision as naked political opportunism.
“I assumed I was going to win, and win handily. And that all gets upended,” told The New York Times earlier this month. “Donald Trump did what was in the best interest of Donald Trump.”
The former CEO of construction-firm Hill International, who has pumped $500,000 of his own money into his race, also told the Times that at the time of Van Drew’s switch, he had told the White House that he “did not have an interest in changing districts.”
Van Drew’s switch — which came over the Congressman’s opposition to impeachment — earned the blessing of Trump, who announced Van Drew at the White House on December 19.
“I believe that this is just a better fit for me,” Van Drew explained, and said Trump had his “undying support.”
Richter will now face a battle against local labor leader Kate Gibbs for the Republican nomination, before coming up against Kim in the general.
New Jersey’s 3rd district, which is listed as a “Democratic Toss Up” by the Cook Political Report, was one of the closest midterm races in the country in 2018 as Kim won by just 3,973 votes. The district has 10,754 more registered Democrats, but went to Donald Trump by six points in 2016.
Update: Richter confirmed the switch in a phone interview with Politico, and added that he is endorsing Van Drew.
“I’ve made my decision. I am going to step aside from the 2nd District race,” he said.