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Amy Kennedy running to challenge Jeff Van Drew in New Jersey

Kennedy, a mental health advocate, is the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy

Democrat Amy Kennedy, who announced a campaign for congress in New Jersey's 2nd district Monday, is pictured next to her husband, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., and children at a Senate hearing in July 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Democrat Amy Kennedy, who announced a campaign for congress in New Jersey's 2nd district Monday, is pictured next to her husband, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., and children at a Senate hearing in July 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amy Kennedy announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for New Jersey’s 2nd District on Monday.

The wife of former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy is hoping to take on Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who flipped the district from red to blue in the 2018 midterms but has since changed parties and is now a Republican.

Van Drew opposed articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, and the president later endorsed the congressman’s reelection bid in the southern New Jersey district. 

Kennedy, a former public school history teacher in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, invoked Van Drew in her announcement video. 

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“Our country is in crisis, and our leaders like Donald Trump and Jeff Van Drew have lost their moral compass,” Kennedy said. “Environmental protections for our coastal communities are being traded in for profits. Race baiting and fear mongering have taken over. We no longer talk to our families and our neighbors because of our divisive politics.”

Kennedy is the education director of the Kennedy Forum, a mental health advocacy organization her husband founded. She was born in Atlantic City and grew up in the district. She married Patrick J. Kennedy, who represented Rhode Island’s 1st District from 1995 to 2011, in July 2011. The former congressman, the son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, is a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Montclair State University professor Brigid Callahan Harrison is already running for the Democratic nomination.

Trump carried the 2nd District by nearly 5 points in 2016. Van Drew won the open seat by 8 points in 2018 after Republican Frank A. LoBiondo declined to seek another term. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales shifted the race from Tilts Democratic to Tilts Republican after the initial reports of Van Drew’s party switch.

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