This year of unpleasant surprises started prematurely in South Jersey last December, when Democratic U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew betrayed the voters who elected him, became a Republican, and pledged undying support for President Trump. But the rise of Amy Kennedy, the talented Democratic newcomer challenging Van Drew’s bid for re-election, offers voters in the sprawling 2nd Congressional District a trustworthy alternative to the tarnished incumbent.

Kennedy, 41, of Brigantine, Atlantic County is a fourth-generation South Jerseyan, a former public school teacher, a mental health advocate, and a mother of five. Kennedy soundly defeated two other contenders in the primary; without the support of South Jersey’s Democratic machine (although Gov. Phil Murphy backed her). She is married to former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

While Kennedy herself has never served in elected office, her professional and personal background, and the people skills she has brought to the campaign, should serve her well in Washington. She earned a graduate degree in environmental science and says science and data must inform New Jersey’s ongoing effort to contain the coronavirus. Kennedy also supports continued federal support assistance for the small businesses in the district and beyond that have borne an enormous share of the pandemic’s economic toll. We expect that fighting the impact of climate change on the Shore and in the Pinelands will be a priority for her.

While GOP attack ads paint her as a leftist radical and closet socialist, this young New Jersey Democrat is for mainstream Americans — and Amy Kennedy the right choice for her district.

About Inquirer Endorsements
Prior to each election, the Inquirer’s Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom, identifies the races where an endorsement can help readers understand where candidates stand on issues and why we think voters should support (or not support) a particular candidate.
We think all elections are important and try to cover as many as we can. We research the candidates' backgrounds through the work of our newsroom colleagues, as well as through our own reporting. The Board also hosts meetings with candidates running in contended races, where we ask them about their stance on the issues we think are most important to their constituents. This year, we held virtual meetings with them on Zoom. The meetings are on the record.
We invite your comments on this process and our endorsements at opinion@inquirer.com. If you’d like your comments to be considered for our letters to the editor page, please include your address and phone number (not for publication) so we can verify your identity.