A former Clinton White House speechwriter and Microsoft executive knocked off a seven-term conservative stalwart in New Jersey’s most closely watched congressional race and the only one lost by an incumbent Tuesday.
Democrat Josh Gottheimer toppled Republican Rep. Scott Garrett in northern New Jersey’s 5th District, a GOP stronghold. He waged a well-funded campaign in a heated race that included Gottheimer calling Garrett a bigot and Garrett calling Gottheimer a liar.
“Did we talk tough? You bet,” Gottheimer told supporters. “Did we disagree from time to time? Hey it’s New Jersey.”
Garrett conceded the race Wednesday morning.
“While the results of this election were not what I had hoped for, I am proud of the race we ran — we stayed the course and kept the faith,” Garrett said.
“We are charged to pray for our nation’s leaders, and we are doing that now.”
Gottheimer won with 50.5 percent of the vote compared to 47.2 percent for Garrett. Libertarian candidate Claudio Belusic got about 2 percent of the vote in the district that includes parts of Bergen, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties.
Gottheimer had broad support from Democratic officials, and his supporters capitalized on reports by Politico that Garrett would not contribute to the House Republican campaign arm.
Garrett rejected the claims, but the fallout included corporate donors like PNC Bank and State Farm pulling their support.
Gottheimer raised $4 million through September, compared to Garrett’s $1.9 million, according to federal campaign disclosures.