One of the most conservative members of the Democratic House caucus won’t be running unopposed for re-election in the 2020 primary.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) will face off against political newcomer Arati Kreibich in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. In a statement announcing her run, Kreibich said that she was ready to take on Gottheimer, who, she pointed out, is one of the members of the caucus most friendly to President Donald Trump.
“He’s got one of the most pro-Trump records of any House Democrat in Washington,” said Kreibich of Gottheimer, “and when he comes home he refuses to explain his votes, hiding behind his position as a leader of the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus.”
Gottheimer regularly stands in the way of progress, Kreibich said in her statement, another sign that he’s not in tune with his constituents.
“He seems more interested in creating roadblocks for big solutions than solving the problems that make life so tough for families in New Jersey,” said Kreibich. “But you don’t get a nickname like ‘the Human Fundraising Machine’ without losing touch with the people.”
That nickname, according to reporting from Splinter‘s Paul Blest, is based in some truth:
Kreibich moved to the U.S. at age 11 from India and got a doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania.
She hasn’t sought higher office yet, but, as her campaign pointed out, she has been politically active for at least two years:
As one of the party’s leading moderate voices, Gottheimer has been in the news of late due to his work to quell the party’s left-leaning tilt in the past six months.
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In May, as The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim reported, Gottheimer used his clout to spearhead an ultimately fruitless attempt to kill a bill against the war on Yemen—though unsuccessful, the intraparty drama showed that the New Jersey congressman could make waves (according to Grim’s subsequent reporting, Gottheimer once allegedly attacked a car in a fit of rage).
According to Grim, Gottheimer doesn’t intend to let that failure send him packing.
A constituent of Gottheimer’s told Grim in May that she hoped to see someone step up to take on the incumbent. Local Indivisible steering committee member Madeline Trimble said that members of her group “just want him to meet us halfway and act like a normal Democrat who believes in the party.”
“Many of our members actively supported Josh Gottheimer’s re-election efforts because we believe in the Democratic Party platform,” said Trimble. “Some of us are concerned that sometimes it seems like Congressman Gottheimer is working at odds with that platform.”
Progressive group Roots Action in June called for Gottheimer to be primaried, placing the representative in its list of “Bad Blues.”
Roots Action was unsparing in its critique of Gottheimer’s Democratic credentials:
As Common Dreams reported in June, “ousting incumbents like those detailed in the report is an uphill battle,” but for Roots Action, “that doesn’t mean they’re not fights worth undertaking.”
In a video announcing her campaign, Kreibich put the daunting task to taking on Gottheimer in moral terms.
“We need to have the moral courage and conviction to stand up for what is right and what is fair,” said Kreibich. “Our representatives should stand with people—not corporations.”
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