Politics

Republican Scott Garrett Defeated in New Jersey’s 5th District

Democrat Josh Gottheimer unseats the longtime incumbent

Republican Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey has lost re-election to Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrat Josh Gottheimer will defeat Republican Scott Garrett in New Jersey’s 5th District, The Associated Press projects. 

Gottheimer led Garrett, 51 percent to 47 percent, with 97 percent of precincts reporting.

[Election Results 2016]

Coming into Election Day, this traditionally Republican district was rated Tilts Democrat by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call. Democrats made Garrett a top target this year, with the Democratic super PAC House Majority PAC debuting its first general election ad of the year here.

Democrats seized on comments Garrett made last year about not paying his National Republican Congressional Committee dues out of protest of the committee’s support for gay candidates. In one brutal ad called “Dixie,” HMP suggested that Garrett was a better fit for Alabama than northern New Jersey. 

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Garrett’s comments also hurt his fundraising from the financial services industry, traditionally one of his biggest backers. Outside GOP groups have done little to come to his rescue.

The 5th District is shaped like an upside down “V” sitting on top of northern New Jersey. Most of the district’s constituents live in a cluster of affluent New York City suburbs in northeastern Bergen County, but the western part of the district is more rural and conservative. 

Garrett has represented the district since 2002, winning by double digits in all his previous races. 

[Garrett Challenger Breaks Fundraising Record]

Gottheimer has an extensive past working for elite political figures and companies. After receiving degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Oxford University and Harvard Law School, he worked as an intern for former House speaker Thomas S. Foley, speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, strategic communications director for Ford Motor Co. and a corporate strategy manager for Microsoft. 

He calls himself a centrist, “fiscally a bit more conservative and socially progressive.”

In Congress, Gottheimer wants to bring more federal money to his district, saying it pays more into the Treasury than it gets back in appropriations. His priorities will be an overhaul of the tax system and an increase in infrastructure spending.

He would like to serve on the Financial Services Committee, and also is interested in the Intelligence, and Transportation and Infrastructure committees.

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