MacArthur Campaign Gains $800,000 at Trump Fundraiser

Jun 13, 2017

Congressman Tom MacArthur must be closing following news of the investigations into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign staff and associates and Russians during and after the 2016 campaign. Because if the president and/or some of his advisors are brought down because of those investigations, the congressman could also be hurt politically.

MacArthur, whose sprawling New Jersey 3rd District includes western Stafford Township and all of Barnegat Township, has hitched his wagon upon a star: President Trump.

He first came to the president’s attention when he authored the MacArthur Amendment, a legislative bill he is credited with, pushing the American Health Care Act, the GOP plan for replacing the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, through the House of Representatives in early May.

President Trump had been pushing Congress to act on the Republican promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Now the president has thanked MacArthur in a big way.

On Sunday, the president was the headliner at a MacArthur fundraiser at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster. It was the first personal fundraiser the president has held for a House incumbent.

Politico reported on Sunday evening that the event raised more than $800,000 for MacArthur. Politico also said that about 100 people attended the fundraiser, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The event was closed to the press but MacArthur campaign strategist Chris Russell later told Politico that the president “talked about the health care fight. (He was) very complimentary of Tom and his efforts on health care and, moving forward, sees him as a leader in Washington.”

If the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by Trump’s associates goes nowhere, and if Trump’s presidency proves successful, then MacArthur will benefit by having a friend in the highest of places, the Oval Office. But if those investigations go badly for the president and his advisors, or even if the investigations drag out and continue to garner maximum coverage in the news media, being joined at the hip with Trump could become a serious weight for MacArthur to carry while running for reelection in 2018.

MacArthur easily won his first Congressional election in 2014, racking up 100,471 votes to Democrat Aimee Belgard’s 82,537 and Democratic-Republican candidate Frederick John LaVergne’s 3,095. His 2016 election numbers were even stronger. MacArthur garnered 194,596 votes to LaVergne’s 127,526 running as a Democrat.

MacArthur received 68 percent of the votes from Ocean County voters in 2016. Overall in his district, the congressman received 59 percent of the vote, which means the vote was closer in Burlington County. MacArthur received 53 percent of the Burlington County vote, while LaVergne earned 46 percent.

It is unlikely MacArthur can find more Republicans to vote for him in 2018 in Ocean County. But if the Trump-related investigations continue, it seems likely he may lose some independent voters in Burlington County.

— Rick Mellerup

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