ELECTIONS

Cobb, Norcross Running for Congress in First District

By Brenda Flanagan
Correspondent

Some folks out shopping in Cherry Hill do recognize the sportscaster and former NFL linebacker, who helpfully wears his Eagles football jersey while campaigning for Congress.

Garry Cobb’s the Republican Party candidate, the conservative underdog in a district dominated by Camden, where votes skew heavily Democratic and in 2008, President Obama won with two-thirds of the vote.

“I’m a Democrat,” said one voter. When asked if she will just go in and pull that one lever across the board, she said, “Yes.”

Cobb’s larger challenge? He’s up against a dynasty — Democrat Donald Norcross — the state senator and brother of political power broker George Norcross. Brother Donald’s widely regarded as a shoo-in.

When asked if she knows who the candidates are, Mary Kay said, “One is Norcross.” When asked who the other candidate is, she said, “I forget. I know he’s a Republican. I’m a registered Republican.”

To get himself noticed, Cobb’s taking his campaign straight to Norcross — confronting him at public events.

“You gotta get your hands out of people’s pockets, you know? End the corruption, man,” he said at one.

Cobb posts homegrown campaign ads claiming businesses are leaving Camden because of Norcross.

“Whether it is corrupt or not, that’s irrelevant. People look at our area and they say we don’t want to deal with that because it taints us,” Cobb said.

When asked how he deals with that and respond to it, Donald Norcross said, “Well the most important thing is I havve been talking to people the last four out of the five years I’ve been on the ballot. And what people are concerned about is about making sure they have a job.”

We caught up with Donald Norcross today at a groundbreaking ceremony for a $50 million redevelopment project in Clementon.

When asked about charges of corruption, he said, “Well this is silly season. People will say many things. This is part of the dynamic. That’s exactly what we don’t need in Washington.”

Donald Norcross went to Trenton and the state Assembly in 2009, the state Senate a year later. The former labor leader’s heir apparent to the First CD seat vacated by 12-term Democrat Rob Andrews, who resigned amidst an ethics probe of his campaign finances. National Democratic figures Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have campaigned for Norcross, and his million-dollar war chest buys slick advertising.

But Cobb’s undaunted, saying the First CD has a lot of independents and the race is closer than experts think.

Cobb admits Christie hasn’t been to the area to campaign for him.

Political analysts say even though Cobb is on the GOP party line, the former linebacker would have to pull off a stunning upset in order to block the Norcross political machine.