Fair Haven Mayor and candidate for Rush Holt’s 12th district Congressional seat, seen in his office with a map of the district. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
You aren’t going to see much white space on Mike Halfacre’s calendar these days. Maintaining a town, a law practice and working the campaign trail tends to wipe out your free time.
Since announcing his campaign against Democratic incumbent Rush Holt in July, the mayor of Fair Haven has been hard at work trying to gain support across the large swath of New Jersey that is the 12th District 44 municipalities in five counties that reaches from Halfacre’s hometown to the Delaware River.
With county conventions and a primary looming, Halfacre has been on a dizzying pace on the stump.
“I’m very busy,” he said. “I am out somewhere almost every night of the week.”
The stumping has gotten him the support of the increasingly-popular Tea Party movement. Just in the last couple months, he’s received the support of five Tea Party groups in the state: the North New Jersey Tea Party, njteaparty.com, Jersey Shore Tea Party Patriots, Bayshore Tea Party and the Ocean County Tea Party.
Halfacre sees the Tea Party movement as a reflection of his candidacy.
“It’s a grassroots effort, absolutely. I am running a grassroots campaign,” Halfacre said. “Uniformly, these people are average, everyday citizens of New Jersey. They’re well-informed, they’re financially conservative.”
Of course, the Tea Party support wouldn’t mean so much had it just been, as planned, Halfacre v. Holt. Somewhat unexpectedly, Halfacre is now trying just to get a shot at Holt by vying for the Republican nomination. Six months after he announced his candidacy, two more Republican opponents, Scott Sipprelle, an independent investor from Princeton, and Oceanport resident and business owner David Corsi, have thrown their hats into the ring.
Halfacre said he was more surprised about the timing of their announcements rather than having competition.
“The fact that they ran in the race has galvanized us. We had to work a lot harder, and in a good way,” Halfacre said. “We’ve got a fight on our hands.”
It won’t likely have many lulls, either. The next month will be all about getting through county conventions later this month, then April through June will bring primary campaigning.
In the meantime, Halfacre, a real estate lawyer, still has two jobs to do: work to support his family and continue as mayor of Fair Haven. So far, he says he’s done well at balancing those with the campaign, though he missed Fair Haven’s last meeting, the first in three years, he said.
“Being mayor is still my priority,” he said.