State Sen. Donald Norcross (D-5 of Camden) launched his campaign for Congresson Monday morning, speaking to a crowd of union workers and local Democratic leaders packed in a small VFW hall in Bellmawr.
As U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1 of Haddon Heights) prepares to officially leave the office he’s held for 23 years on Tuesday, Norcross spent Monday morning touting his own middle class upbringing in Pennsauken, career as a union electrician and work in the state Senate in his bid to follow in Andrews' footsteps.
Joined by Democratic supporters including State Senate President Steve Sweeney, Camden Mayor Dana Redd and Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard — who is in the midst of her own campaign for Congress — Norcross put jobs, affordable education and advocating for South Jersey’s “fair share” at the top of his platform.
“South Jersey needs to continue to have an effective advocate. A voice in Washington who understands the issues that matter most to people,” said Norcross, brother of South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross, who was not at Monday's event.
Norcross has shored up a laundry list of Democratic support across the state in the past two weeks, after Andrews announced he would step down from Congress to take a job at Philadelphia law firm Dilworth Paxson. Andrews, the target of a House Ethics Committee investigation for misuse of campaign funds, said the move was to provide a better financial future for his family.
Norcross called Andrews “the most important person not in the room,” on Monday and saying his “fierce advocacy for all of us in this room over the decades has been second to none.”
Sweeney, who spoke about his time growing up with Norcross in Pennsauken, introduced him as a “true champion of the people” and “one of us.”
“It’s time we send a union electrician to Washington,” said Sweeney.
In Congress, Norcross said he’d put his experience working with both sides of the aisle in Trenton to use and advocate for the state. Andrews, who was a close ally with House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had considerable clout in Congress with two decades of seniority under his belt as well as a seat on the House Armed Services Committee
“We might fight like hell as Ds and Rs, we understand that, but when you put your hand on that Bible and you’re sworn in, it’s about doing what’s right for the people you represent,” said Norcross. “That’s the type of attitude I hope to take to Washington.”
Norcross may face a primary challenge for the seat, as Logan Township Mayor Frank Minor, a Democrat, said he’s still considering a run and has formed an exploratory committee to look into it.
“There’s still a lot of time left before I have to make a decision,” said Minor, who added he wasn’t deterred by the strong showing of support for Norcross on Monday.
“A lot of people showed up, but that doesn’t mean they’re endorsing him,” said Minor, who added Democrats who have shown support for Norcross publicly have privately reached out to Minor when they heard he could throw his name in the race. He said he has until the end of March to make his final decision.
“That’s a lifetime in politics,” said Minor. “Anything can happen.”
Republicans have reportedly tapped former Eagles linebacker and talk radio personality Garry Cobb to run for Andrews’ seat.