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New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim narrowly flipped a Trump district in 2018. It could be just as close this year

Pranshu Verma, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- A few blocks from the Capitol, Andy Kim settled into a small, quiet campaign office, minutes after casting his vote last week to formally send articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate. It was a place for the New Jersey Democratic congressman to reflect.

"I did what I thought was right," said Kim, who also voted in favor of impeaching Trump in December. "This commander in chief position is one that I hold so sacred. The trust and the faith the American people put into (it) can't be shaken."

He said his decision-making approach was methodical and immune to politics. But with impeachment, the politics are impossible to ignore.

Kim, a former national security aide on Iraq issues under President Barack Obama, represents a South Jersey district that Trump won by six points in 2016. In 2018, Kim flipped the seat, beating Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur by fewer than 4,000 votes.

The only other New Jersey congressman who faced similar circumstances as Democrats' push to impeach Trump heated up was Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who beat a longtime Republican in a district Trump won by five points. Van Drew voted against impeachment and ultimately defected to the GOP.

Kim took a different approach. And his opponents are using it to try to paint him as a "left-wing radical."

 

"Andy Kim pretends to be a moderate," said Kate Gibbs, the early Republican front-runner angling for Kim's job. "This is not what people voted for. They feel they got a bait and switch."

Republicans are relishing the chance to unseat Kim, which they see as crucial to taking back the House in 2020.

"If Republicans win three seats in New Jersey, it's going to be a Republican House," former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently said on ABC News. "I think impeachment is a large part of it."

And with the political dynamics of Kim's district changing in recent years, the race to unseat him could be one of the closest and most hard-fought in the country.

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