Kim meets voters as 3rd district remains too close to call
TRENTON — There is still no official winner in the tight 3rd Congressional District race between Democrat Andy Kim and GOP incumbent Tom MacArthur.
After mail-in ballots from Kim's stronghold of Burlington County, counted on Wednesday, gave him the lead by just over 2,000 votes, the challenger declared himself the winner on Wednesday night.
MacArthur did not concede, issuing a statement which read, "There are nearly 7,000 more of them who haven’t been heard from yet. We must ensure that their votes — and all votes — are counted in a transparent way that protects the integrity of this election."
The Associated Press vote tally widened the margin of votes between Kim and MacArthur to 3,424, with 100 percent of the votes counted. However, the AP has not yet called the race.
- Andy Kim, Dem 150,311 — 50 percent
- Tom MacArthur, GOP (i) 146,887 — 49 percent
- Lawrence Berlinski, Ind 3,837 — 1 percent
"There's certainly a chance MacArthur could pull this out, but my understanding is that the outstanding votes come from areas that were very supportive of Andy Kim. That's why the Kim folks are particularly confident. They just don't see a path for MacArthur to overcome the lead they currently have even after all the additional votes are counted," Ben Dworkin of Rowan University's School of Public Policy & Citizenship told New Jersey 101.5.
Dworkin said there is no political tradition as to when to declare victory in a tight campaign.
"Once you are confident you are going to win, you can declare victory," Dworkin said, adding that Kim risks embarrassment if he turns out to be wrong.
Ocean County GOP head George Gilmore told the Courier Post the final count of provisional ballots could take until January. Gilmore is also chairman of the Ocean County Election Board.
Ocean County Board of Election official Jason Varano told NJ.com that 63 eligible mail-in ballots arrived in Ocean County yesterday and more were expected Thursday night. The count of provisional ballots will not begin until next week.
Kim felt confident enough to go out on Thursday and meet voters and reporters at a diner in Edgewater Park. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer that MacArthur's negative advertising may have "backfired," especially after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11. He credits his own campaigning and meeting people that led to victory, something he said MacArthur didn't do.
MacArthur's campaign has not yet returned messages.