After winning a third term to serve New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, Rep. Josh Gottheimer believes Democrats can use his success in the district as a blueprint moving forward.
“It’s a sign that cooperation and consistency is key, we should always put the country ahead of party in every corner of the district,” said Gottheimer in an interview Nov. 6 with North-JerseyNews.com. “That is what I have focused on since moment one and making sure we fight for everyone in the 5th District.”
The Bergen County-based Democrat said that he was “beyond grateful” for support in the four counties he serves, especially in the Republican-leaning counties of Passaic, Warren and Sussex. With about 87% of the votes counted in the 5th District, Gottheimer leads GOP challenger Frank Pallotta by a 55%-44% margin.
The congressman noted he is proudest of the resources he has been able to obtain for veterans, seniors and those affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the past year, citing the recent agreement allowing veterans in Northwestern Jersey to receive referrals for healthcare services at the Newton ImageCare Center instead of having to drive more than an hour to the East Orange VA Medical Center for service.
Problem Solvers Time
“As I often say to others, remember, it is often as important to fill a pothole as it is to fight for a bill in Washington,” said the congressman. “You have to do both.”
Gotthemier believes the role of the bipartisan caucus he co-chairs will become even more significant when the 117th Congress is sworn in Jan. 21, 2021.
“This is going to be a big moment for the Problem Solvers Caucus,” he said. “With a divided government and a much smaller majority in the House, it is going to require us working together at a higher level.”
As for the immediate future, a continuing resolution to keep the government running needs to be passed by Congress that Gottheimer hopes will feature key coronavirus relief.
Help for the Holidays
“What is clear is that we have to get help to people before the holidays. You have a lot of people hungry, you have a lot of people who can’t pay their bills, pay their rent, and food kitchens (that need restocking)….we have a lot of small businesses that are on the verge of bankruptcy,” said the congressman. “Long-term, we need to continue to work on COVID-19 relief, especially for small businesses and families, so many that have been affected and are hurting.”
In reflecting on the campaign, Gottheimer said “running against somebody who did not forswear White Supremacists is something I would never have expected.”
While he came into the race with an extensive background on issues of antisemitism, homegrown terror and discrimination in all forms from his work in Congress over the past four years, Gottheimer was still taken aback by the stance Pallotta took supporting right wing extremists, especially the Oath Keepers who are registered as a domestic terrorist organization by New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
“Not a surprise it’s there but a surprise that people are publicly willing to shamelessly embrace it and defend it,” said Gottheimer. “It reminds me that we have a lot of work to do across the board on all fronts when it comes to standing up to hate…that it is still alive and well unfortunately in pockets or our communities.”
Since Election day, while awaiting the results of the race for President, reports of infighting of House Democrats have surfaced. Centrists Democrats, including Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Connor Lamb (D-PA), noted the messaging of defunding the police and other extreme left wing views hurt the party.
Gottheimer echoed those sentiments, believing one of the takeaways for his party from the 2020 Election is voters wanting pragmatic solutions to the nation’s greatest challenges.
No Socialism Talk
“Standing by our first responders is really key,” added Gottheimer, who received the endorsement of the State Troopers Fraternal Association and New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police this election cycle. “The other side has tried to use this idea that many of us are for defunding the police and nothing could be further from the truth. I think they just kept repeating that and it is totally false.”
The congressman noted winning issues for Democrats resonating with families include environmental matters such as clean air and water, COVID relief, infrastructure investment and fighting to lower taxes—especially the reinstatement of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.
“On our side, we are not interested in socialism, or any talk of socialism. My colleagues have made it pretty clear that those words should not be uttered in the halls of the Democratic caucus. I think that it is critically important,” said Gottheimer. “It’s clear that we did very well with our message of healthcare and clear leadership on COVID.”