April 23, 2019 | 71° F

Little faces defeat to Congressional incumbent

Photo by Jeffrey Lazaro |

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, N.J. — Republican candidate Anna Little lost to Democrat Frank Pallone last night after months of campaigning for the congressional seat.

Although the race was close at times, Pallone ultimately secured 55 percent of the voters while Little was able to obtain 43.6 percent of New Jersey's 6th District voters.

With her supporters sporting nametags labeling themselves as "Anna's Army," Little received applause as she approached the microphone at the Shore Casino in Atlantic Highlands, N.J., to deliver her concession speech.

With the company of her family, Little gave thanks to her supporters for months of support and called it a "gift from God."

"It is one thing to see a packed room when you are about to declare victory. It is very different to see a packed room when you are 14 points short," she said. "Everything we have accomplished is a foundation [and] we are not finished yet."

As the crowd of supporters chanted her name, Little praised their efforts to forget about their busy schedules and help with her campaign.

"[But] it wasn't just that. I know you love me but you love your country. You remember your history," she said. "You know where you started out and you know what our founding fathers gave up. You care about the future of your children and grandchildren. That's what we're about."

Little also took time to officially adopt the hundreds in attendance as part of her family, saying their efforts during the campaign produced close ties that could not be broken.

"We're calling this branch of the family ‘Anna's Army,'" she said. "We're going to look at tonight as a huge victory."

Noting the fact Pallone maintained tight control over his seat in Congress for 22 years, Campaign Chair Leigh-Ann Bellew said Little knew the race was not going to be easy.

"This was going to be a tough race and we knew it all along. I knew it the day that I asked [Little] to run in the primary that this would be a tough race and it wouldn't be easy," she said. "But I knew that she was the right candidate and she had the right message."

Although the election did not prove successful, Bellew said the mass support Little built over the campaign was a victory in and of itself.

"The most amazing part was the citizens, voters and constituency getting so involved. We had at times 150 people out on a weekend to walk. We walked to Middletown and knocked on 5,000 doors before lunchtime," she said. "That just tells you the enthusiasm [for Little]."

Bellew added that instead of solely visiting a polling booth, many of Little's supporters took part in active campaigning for the first time.

"I would say most, maybe 80 or 90 percent, have never done this before in their lives," she said. "[So] the voters and the constituents of Congressional District 6 are winners because they got out there and they did something we haven't seen in a very long time."

The reason Little created more support than expected was not because she was the lesser of two evils, but rather she was candidate voters could believe in, Bellew said.

"She has the right message and she doesn't mince words. I think people are looking for a representative who shoots straight," she said. "And even if they shoot wrong some times, they apologize if they do and they set the record straight."

Supporters saw Little as someone they could relate to, comparing her popularity to that of Gov. Chris Christie's in the national landscape, Bellew said.

"What they see of him is that he just says what's on his mind or what he believes. It's very colorful but it's not that political doublespeak," she said. "How many of us actually think in that political doublespeak?"

Bellew also used the mass number of supporters Little compiled during her campaign to exemplify how New Jersey, typically a blue state, is currently in the middle of a political transformation.

"New Jersey has long lived under more liberal policies … and the results of those policies [have citizens] saying let's give those other ideas a try and see if they work," she said. "The definition of insanity is to do something over and over again and expect a different result."

But Jim McCabe, a Little supporter from Westfield, N.J., said this political transformation is not contained within the borders of New Jersey but rather is spreading across the nation.

"It's a pivotal time for our country," he said. "I think these midterm elections are going to show that our country is moving away and rejecting what [President Barack] Obama has been putting up and moving toward a more conservative message for the country."

McCabe, 23, added that although Pallone succeeded in securing his seat in Congress, the support Little created through her campaign should send a loud message to the winning candidate.

"The support should speak volumes to him," he said. "[Pallone will] say, ‘What I am doing is not right and that's not what the people want. Let me take step back and see what I'm doing wrong and be the voice for the constituents and be the reason they elected me.'"

Although Bellew was unsure of whether or not Little would consider running again, she said Little would receive much support due to her efforts during the campaign for a seat in Congress.

"The citizens of the 6th District have been so active in this campaign and have felt part of their government. I think that they have a great deal of gratitude for [Little]," Bellew said. "Whatever she chooses to do, I'll be supporting her and I know that there will be many [others as well]."

Devin Sikorski

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