Jason Sarnoski and Josh Gottheimer shared the stage Saturday as Warren County Community College commencement speakers.
It’s possible they could again appear together on stage in the coming year — for a debate.
Sarnoski, a Republican freeholder in Warren County who won re-election last year, is considering a race to reclaim New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District from Gottheimer, a Democrat serving his first year in the U.S. House.
The freeholder last month filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to form the Sarnoski for Congress Exploratory Committee. A “Jason Sarnoski for Congress” website is also live.
“I’ve been guided by one principal: How can I be part of the solution,” Sarnoski told lehighvalleylive.com on Tuesday. “I want to make sure we have a voice.”
Should he formally mount a campaign, the freeholder said he would run on a platform of lower taxes, reduced government regulations and economic growth.
The 5th Congressional District covers northern Warren County, as well as parts of Sussex, Passaic and Bergen counties.
Sarnoski, a Bergen County native, lives in Lopatcong Township — which is actually in the 7th Congressional District, represented by Republican Leonard Lance.
Representatives are only required to reside in the state, not the district according to the House of Representatives. However, Sarnoski said that he and his family plan to move into the 5th and remain in Warren County.
A decision on his campaign is expected to be announced by the end of June.
Any challenger in the 5th District would be up against a Democrat who mounted a massive campaign last year.
Gottheimer, a former speechwriter in the Clinton White House and a Microsoft executive, raised some $4 million to unseat seven-term Republican Congressman Scott Garrett. That was the highest amount recorded by the Federal Election Commission for any House candidate from the Garden State going back to 1980.
The Democrat from the Bergen County township of Wyckoff has been touring the district since he was sworn in to Congress in January, just last Saturday holding a coffee klatch in a Warren County diner before the community college graduation.
In its latest ratings of 2018 House races, the D.C.-based Cook Political Report rated the 5th District as leaning Democratic — a rating meaning one party has the advantage, but no lock, on a competitive race.
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Neighboring North and Central Jersey districts also look competitive.
Lance’s 7th District and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s 11th District are both rated as leaning toward the Republican incumbents as challengers explore their chances.
Steve Novak may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @type2supernovak and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.