Josh Gottheimer

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Josh Gottheimer
Josh Gottheimer Photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 5th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded byScott Garrett
Personal details
Born (1975-03-08) March 8, 1975 (age 44)
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Marla Tusk (m. 2006)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA)
Pembroke College, Oxford
Harvard University (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

Joshua S. Gottheimer (/ˈɡɒthmər/; born March 8, 1975) is an American lawyer, writer, and public policy adviser serving as the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 5th congressional district. The district includes a swath of exurban and rural territory west of New York City.

Gottheimer was active in the Democratic Party as a speechwriter for Bill Clinton and as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Wesley Clark, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton. He has also worked for Burson-Marsteller, the Federal Communications Commission, Ford Motor Company, and Microsoft. On November 8, 2016, he defeated incumbent Republican Scott Garrett in the congressional race for New Jersey's 5th District. Due to his ability to raise money for campaigns, he has been branded the "Human Fundraising Machine" by some news publications.[1]


Gottheimer in 2012

Gottheimer was born in Livingston, New Jersey on March 8, 1975.[2] At the age of 16, Gottheimer served as a United States Senate Page for Frank Lautenberg, a Senator from New Jersey. Through high school and college, Gottheimer held internships with C-SPAN, the Secretary of the United States Senate, and Tom Foley, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.[3]

Gottheimer graduated from West Essex High School, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard Law School. While at the University of Pennsylvania, he served on the "rapid response team" for Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign. Following Clinton's reelection, Gottheimer attended Pembroke College, Oxford, on a Thouron Fellowship, studying toward a DPhil in modern history. He joined the Clinton administration as a speechwriter in 1998, at the age of 23,[3] working in the administration until its end in 2001. While attending law school, Gottheimer worked as an adviser for Wesley Clark's 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, and Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.[4] After the 2004 election, Gottheimer worked for the Ford Motor Company, and then became executive vice president for Burson-Marsteller.[3] From 2010 to 2012, he worked for the Federal Communications Commission,[5] where he led an initiative related to broadband internet.[6] He then joined Microsoft as a strategist.[7]

Congressional career[edit]


In the 2016 elections, Gottheimer ran for the House of Representatives in New Jersey's 5th congressional district, a seat held by Republican Scott Garrett. Gottheimer's friend Cory Booker joined him when he officially announced his candidacy.[8] Gottheimer raised funds for his challenge with the help of Clinton allies and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Ben Ray Luján.[9][10]

Gottheimer attracted more attention than previous challengers to Garrett due to his fundraising ability[11] and ties to the Clintons.[12] The New York Times ran a prominent article about his Clinton ties, describing him as a protégé of the Clintons and noting that all three Clintons had appeared at a recent Manhattan fundraiser for Gottheimer at which Hillary Clinton introduced him as "something of a family member."[4]

His campaign's 2015 financial filings, in which Gottheimer reported raising around $1 million through the end of September, showed that "about one dollar in six came directly from fellow alumni of the Clinton White House and campaigns...or from major donors and employees of consulting firms tied closely to the Clintons."[4] Among those who donated were three former Clinton press secretaries and two former Clinton chiefs of staff.[4] It was the most expensive House race in New Jersey history.[13]

The 5th had historically been one of the more Republican districts in New Jersey, but redistricting after the 2010 census had made it slightly more Democratic by pushing it further into Bergen County. John McCain carried the old 5th with 54 percent of the vote in 2008,[14] but would have won the new 5th with only 50.5 percent of the vote. In 2012 Mitt Romney won it with 50.9 percent.[15]

During the campaign, Garrett criticized Gottheimer "for taking a donation from Ibrahim Al-Rashid, the son of a Saudi multimillionaire who pleaded guilty in 2014 to simple assault of his estranged wife."[16] Gottheimer and national Democrats attacked Garrett for his social conservatism, particularly comments he made about openly gay Republican candidates, arguing that these views showed Garrett was too conservative for the district.[17]

Gottheimer defeated Garrett,[18] primarily on the strength of a strong showing in the district's share of Bergen County, home to over three-fourths of the district's voters. He won Bergen by over 33,800 votes, more than double his overall margin of almost 14,900 votes.[19] When he was sworn in on January 3, 2017, [20] he became the first Democrat to represent what is now the 5th since 1981 (most of this district was the 7th District prior to the 1980 Census).

He is the Democratic co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.[21]

Gottheimer was reelected in 2018, defeating Republican nominee John McCann with 56% of the vote. McCann won three of the district's four counties, including Garrett's former base in heavily Republican Sussex and Warren counties. However, Gottheimer won a second term on the strength of carrying the district's share of Bergen County by over 51,000 votes, more than his overall margin of 41,300 votes.[22]


He is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition,[23] the New Democrat Coalition[24] and the Climate Solutions Caucus.[25] In the first session of the 115th United States Congress, Gottheimer was ranked the eighth most bipartisan member of the House by the Bipartisan Index, a metric published by The Lugar Center and Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy to assess congressional bipartisanship.[26][27] In January 2018 Gottheimer was one of six House Democrats who voted with Republicans for a short-term spending bill in an attempt to stave off a federal government shutdown.[28]

Members of the House Republican caucus criticized Gottheimer's office for using an official congressional e-mail account to boast of his fundraising in violation of House rules. The e-mail originated from the account of Abhi Rahman, Gottheimer's communications director. Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center said that in such a matter, the line between ethical and unethical was "clear."[29][30]

Committee Assignments[edit]

In the 116th Congress he is serving on the following committees: [31]


Anti-Moocher Bill[edit]

On April 15, 2017, Gottheimer announced that he would be introducing the "Anti-Moocher Bill," under which states receiving more federal dollars than they contribute to the national treasury would pay their "fair share." "Why should Alabama get our federal tax dollars and get a free ride, while we're left holding the bag with higher property taxes?" he asked. "It just doesn't make sense."[32]

Iran deal[edit]

In an August 2015 op-ed for the Times of Israel, Gottheimer explained his inability to support President Obama's Iran deal, saying that it was not "in the best interest of the United States or our allies in the region," mainly because it would "not preclude Iran from developing a nuclear weapon." He challenged what he described as five myths that had "developed around the deal," among them that it would prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that without the deal Iran would "be left to operate without any economic sanctions."[33]


Gottheimer supports such New Jersey infrastructure projects as the Lackawanna Cutoff and the Gateway Tunnel.[34][35]


Gottheimer said that he thought President Donald Trump "took the appropriate steps" in response to the 2018 situation in Syria. "There's room the president has to deal with a crisis, and I believed, if you looked at the heinous crimes and atrocities committed, poisoning your own children, that demanded a response, and I'm glad he responded."[36]

Trump and Russia[edit]

Gottheimer called for an independent commission to probe alleged ties between Trump and Russia.[36]


Gottheimer has pointed to his work with the Problem Solvers Caucus as proof that he is not "ideologically rigid." He has also said that he thinks members of Congress are more bipartisan than people think. "I think there's a bit of perception that no one talks to each other," he said. "I think people are eager to work together, but the structure doesn't encourage it. The system doesn't encourage it."[36]

Health care[edit]

He said that "we need to fix the Affordable Care Act," also known as Obamacare. "There's plenty wrong with it, whether it's the medical device tax or the Cadillac tax." But he also felt that the Trump health-care plan did not reflect an effort "to reach across the aisle."[36]

Trump and Ukraine[edit]

Of the possibility of impeaching Trump, Gottheimer said, “We need to make sure this is fact-driven and evidence-based. You can’t prejudge something that is so solemn and obviously could have a big historical impact on our country, and you need to keep the country together.” [37]

Electoral History[edit]


Democratic primary results[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joshua S. Gottheimer 43,250 100.0
Total votes 43,250 100.0
New Jersey's 5th congressional district, 2016 [39]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Josh Gottheimer 172,587 51.1
Republican Scott Garrett (incumbent) 157,690 46.7
Libertarian Claudio Belusic 7,424 2.2
Total votes 337,701 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican
Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Josh Gottheimer (incumbent) 27,486 100
Total votes 27,486 100
New Jersey's 5th congressional district, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Josh Gottheimer (incumbent) 169,546 56.2
Republican John J. McCann 128,255 42.5
Libertarian James Tosone 2,115 0.7
Independent Wendy Goetz 1,907 0.6
Total votes 301,823 100.0
Democratic hold


He is the editor of Ripples of Hope (2003), a collection of American civil-rights speeches. The text of one of the speeches included in the book, which was delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma on January 25, 1965, was previously unpublished. Gottheimer acquired the text from an Alabama police consultant who had transcribed it from FBI surveillance tapes.[40]

He is also co-author, with Mary Frances Berry, of Power of Words (2011), a book about Barack Obama's speeches. "Even those who don't agree with his policies can recall the first time they heard Obama, the candidate, thunder away to a crowd of adoring listeners," wrote Berry and Gottheimer in their introduction. "Obama's words helped create a movement. Americans hung on his every word."[41]


In 2017, at a public community meeting, Gottheimer ordered his staffers to take the notes of a reporter in attendance. After the reporter refused to surrender his notes, Gottheimer became verbally abusive and struck a staffer's car several times. He has also been accused of being a very unpleasant boss,[42] and has had conflicts with other House Democrats, such as Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.[43]

In July 2019 Gottheimer was the victim of a smear campaign. An unknown perpetrator, claiming to be Gottheimer, released a letter on his official letterhead claiming that he had had an affair with a member of his staff and was resigning from office.[44]

Personal life[edit]

Gottheimer is a native of North Caldwell, and he resides in Wyckoff.[45] He is Jewish and a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity.[3] He married Marla Tusk in 2006.[46] Together, they have two children.[3] Gottheimer has a net worth between $2.3 million and $10.3 million.[12]


  • Gottheimer, Josh, ed. (2003). Ripples of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches. New York: Basic Civitas Books. ISBN 0-465-02752-0.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Berry, Mary Frances; Gottheimer, Josh, eds. (2011). Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama's Speeches, from the State House to the White House. Beacon Press. ISBN 0-807-00169-4.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "John McCann reports debt of $455k". New Jersey Globe. April 12, 2019.
  2. ^ "Guide to the New Congress" (PDF). Roll Call. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e Palmer, Joanne (February 14, 2014). "'And then the phone rang…'; Wyckoff man's adventures in politics and public service". The Times of Israel. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Burns, Alexander (December 25, 2015). "Protégé of Clintons Targets U.S. Congressional Seat". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  5. ^ "Josh Gottheimer, Senior Counselor to the Chairman, to step down; Jordan Usdan named Acting Director of Public-Private Initiatives" (pdf) (Press release). Federal Communications Commission. June 20, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "FCC's Gottheimer to Lead New Broadband Public/Private Initiative". RadioResource Media Group. March 7, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  7. ^ Wingfield, Nick; Cain Miller, Claire (December 16, 2012). "Former Washington political brawler now battles for Microsoft". Business Standard. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  8. ^ Pizarro, Max. "Garrett Challenger Gottheimer Gets out of the Gate in CD5". Observer. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  9. ^ Palmer, Anna; Sherman, Jake (July 27, 2015). "After Rep. Garrett's comments on gay Republicans, Dems look to cash in". Politico. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  10. ^ "Former Clinton aide raises big money for potential N.J. congressional run". July 9, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg backed this N.J. candidate - The Auditor". Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Jackson, Herb (March 13, 2016). "Jackson: A 'new Democrat' alternative in 5th Congressional District". The Record. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  13. ^ Jackson, Herb. "Garrett-Gottheimer: NJ's most expensive House race". Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  14. ^ Database of 2008 presidential election results from Swing State Project
  15. ^ "Daily Kos Elections 2008 & 2012 presidential election results for congressional districts used in 2012 & 2014 elections". Google Docs.
  16. ^ Railey, Kimberly. "Gottheimer Takes Heat From Garrett Over Campaign Donation". The National. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  17. ^ "Anti-Gay Remarks Lost A Congressman Wall Street, And Maybe His House Seat".
  18. ^ "Josh Gottheimer Defeats Scott Garrett in New Jersey Congressional Race". The New York Times. November 9, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  19. ^ "Full 2016 election results: New Jersey House 05".
  20. ^ "Gottheimer takes seat as N.J.'s newest House member". Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  21. ^ Marcos, Cristina (February 3, 2017). "Lawmakers set up bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus for new Congress". The Hill. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  22. ^ "New Jersey - Full House results".
  23. ^ "Members". Blue dog coalition. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  24. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  25. ^ "90 Current Climate Solutions Caucus Members". Citizen´s Climate Lobby. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  26. ^ "The Lugar Center - McCourt School Bipartisan Index" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: The Lugar Center. April 24, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  27. ^ "Blue Dog Coalition Members Ranked Most Bipartisan House Democrats in 2017". Washington, D.C.: Blue Dog Coalition. April 25, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  28. ^ Jackson, Herb; Alvarado, Monsy (January 19, 2019). "As shutdown looms, Gottheimer joins Republicans on spending bill most Democrats opposed". Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  29. ^ Danzis, David. "GOP goes after Gottheimer for staffer's fundraising email". New Jersey Herald. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  30. ^ Jackson, Herb. "GOP: Gottheimer aide's email touting fundraising totals may have broken House ethics rules". Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  31. ^ "U.S.House Committee on Financial Services - Membership". United States House of Representatives - Committee on Financial Services. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  32. ^ Danzis, David (April 19, 2017). "Gottheimer talks economic growth, 'Anti-Moocher Bill'". New Jersey Herald. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  33. ^ Gottheimer, Josh. "Myth vs. Reality". North Jersey Jewish Standard. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  34. ^ Moen, Katie. "Andover Twp. resolution advances Lackawanna Cut-Off railroad project". New Jersey Herald. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  35. ^ Nolan, Sarah. "Gottheimer: No one should fear driving their kids across a bridge or through a tunnel". Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  36. ^ a b c d Danzis, David. "Gottheimer discusses issues from his first 100 days in Congress". New Jersey Herald. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  37. ^
  38. ^ Cite error: The named reference primaryresults was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  39. ^ "Election Information" (PDF). NJ Department of State. November 8, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  40. ^ "FBI Text of Rev. King Speech Made Public". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  41. ^ "Power in Words". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  42. ^ "Rep. Josh Gottheimer Is a Really, Really Terrible Boss, Former Staffers Say".
  43. ^ "The Democratic Counterrevolution Has a Self-Appointed Leader: Josh Gottheimer".
  44. ^ McDonald, Terrence T. "Josh Gottheimer denounces 'completely untrue' letter detailing fake scandal involving staffer", The Record (Bergen County), July 29, 2019. Accessed July 30, 2019. "Rep. Josh Gottheimer is denouncing a letter mailed to elected officials in recent days that purports to be one from Gottheimer announcing his resignation because of a personal scandal.... The letter falsely claims the congressman had a sexual relationship with a staffer."
  45. ^ Jackson, Herb (May 4, 2015). "Donors start backing Wyckoff man as potential Garrett challenger for Congress". Archived from the original on January 3, 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  46. ^ "Marla Tusk and Josh Gottheimer". The New York Times. December 10, 2006. Retrieved January 13, 2016.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Scott Garrett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 5th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Vicente Gonzalez
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Clay Higgins