Democrat Tim Alexander and Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew debate at Stockton University, Oct. 19, 2022.

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – The top two candidates running in Congressional District 2-NJ squared off in a mostly civil debate Wednesday evening at the Stockton University Campus Center Theater.

The debate was hosted by the university’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy and The Press of Atlantic City. Although the center cut off registrations to attend the debate in-person due to an overwhelming response for seating, there were many open seats in the auditorium. The debate was moderated by Hughes Center Executive Director John Froonjian.

The lopsided crowd, mostly supporting Democratic challenger Tim Alexander of Galloway Township, heard each candidate address their views on hot-button issues, including inflation, immigration, abortion, wind energy, Jan. 6 Committee, and legalization of marijuana.

Van Drew, a Make America Great Again Republican, relayed his views on “American exceptionalism,” while Alexander said America is already great and will continue to be great as long as the parties come together to solve problems and move the country forward.

Throughout the hour-long debate, the candidates provided opposite viewpoints on nearly every issue, lamenting there was not more time to more fully relay their views.

Van Drew, 69, of Cape May County, is a retired dentist who has served at every level of public office. In 2018, he was elected as a Democrat, but switched parties a year later, pledging his support for then-President Donald Trump, who was in the midst of impeachment. He was re-elected to Congress in 2020 when he was challenged by Democrat Amy Kennedy of Brigantine.

Alexander, 56, of Galloway Township, is a retired police officer and detective captain of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office, who later became a civil rights attorney. This race is his first attempt at public office. He is a second-generation law enforcement officer, and his daughter is carrying on the tradition as a police officer, he said.

As the candidates gave their closing remarks, Van Drew supporters gave him a round of applause, while Alexander received a standing ovation from his supporters.

View the debate here:

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.