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Jun 19, 1:46 PM EDT

Ex-Obama aide challenges congressman who revived health bill

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Ex-Obama aide challenges congressman who revived health bill

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- A former Obama administration national security aide is challenging the New Jersey Republican congressman who helped revive President Donald Trump's health care overhaul.

Andy Kim, 34, of Marlton, told The Associated Press on Monday that he is launching a 2018 bid for New Jersey's 3rd District House seat against incumbent Rep. Tom MacArthur.

Kim said he is running because of MacArthur's push for an amendment that would allow states to get federal waivers from the requirement that insurers charge healthy and sick customers the same premiums. The change would be for people who let their coverage lapse, but MacArthur says those people would be covered by high-risk pools.

"I'm running because I'm concerned about the direction of our country," Kim said. "That legislation is something that is going to endanger tens of thousands in the Jersey 3rd ... and millions of people in the country."

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the House bill would leave 23 million fewer people with insurance by 2026.

The House passed the measure aimed at replacing the Affordable Health Care Act in May, and Trump celebrated with an event at the White House. The Senate is working on a related measure.

Kim's entrance into the race comes after Trump hosted a fundraiser for MacArthur at his Bedminster golf club that raised about $800,000, according to MacArthur's campaign.

It also comes as Democrats across the country are eager to challenge Trump's agenda and deliver him a political blow by picking up seats in contested districts.

MacArthur campaign spokesman Chris Russell defended the congressman's efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act and said he's "determined to confront and solve serious problems."

He also jabbed at Kim's health care credentials.

"As for Andy Kim running on the health care issue, if he is as much of an 'expert' on health care as he was when advising President Obama on ISIS in Iraq, voters in Burlington and Ocean Counties would be wise to keep him on the JV Team," Russell said.

Kim served from 2013 until 2015 as the Iraq director for the Obama administration's National Security Council and before that he was the Iraq director at the Pentagon within the defense secretary's office. He also previously served generals David Petraeus and John Allen in Afghanistan.

He graduated from the University of Chicago in 2004 with a degree in political science and obtained a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University as part of the Rhodes Scholar program.

Southern New Jersey's 3rd District hugs the Delaware River and the Philadelphia suburbs to the west, but also spans the conservative-leaning Pine Barrens and Ocean County to the east. Trump won the district in 2016, but Democrat Barack Obama carried it twice.

Republican Jon Runyan, a former Philadelphia Eagles player, represented the district for two terms before retiring in 2015. Runyan defeated one-term Democrat John Adler in 2010.


Contact Catalini at https://www.twitter.com/mikecatalini

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