CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Garry Cobb spent more than a decade as a pro football player tackling opponents on the field. Now, the former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker-turned-radio-personality is taking on one of New Jersey's most powerful political families in an uphill battle for an open congressional seat.
Cobb, a Republican political novice with less than $14,000 in the bank as of June 30, is taking aim at the Democratic establishment in New Jersey's 1st Congressional District, a reliably blue swath on the outskirts of Philadelphia that includes the city of Camden.
And he's running against state Sen. Donald Norcross, a former labour leader and the brother of south Jersey powerbroker George Norcross, who is widely considered one of the most powerful men in the state.
But Cobb, who is black, has been gaining national attention in recent days on the conservative television circuit, appearing on programs like "Fox & Friends." During his appearances, he has accused Democratic lawmakers — including President Barack Obama — of failing minority communities by supporting harmful welfare policies he says incentivized the breakup of families, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.
"African-American communities throughout the country are doing horribly under Democratic-run cities, and that's why I want to put an end to it," Cobb said this week on Newsmax TV's Steve Malzberg Show, adding that Obama "hasn't really done anything for the African-American community" during his time in office.
The seat opened after Rob Andrews announced his resignation this year amid allegations he misused campaign funds. The complaint was dismissed in May.
In an interview at the Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, where Cobb was greeted like a celebrity as he walked the halls in Eagles gear and white sneakers, he said he was first recruited to run for the seat now held by another ex-Eagle, U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan, a Republican who is quitting Congress after two terms out of open disgust for Washington. After some thought, Cobb said, he decided he wanted to focus on Camden, among the poorest cities in the nation.
Cobb accused the Norcross family of "benefiting from the poverty" in the city.
"Money comes into Camden, it seems it goes into things that they're in charge of," he said, pointing to several Norcross-affiliated projects that have received public funds.
But Norcross, who is running on a platform that stresses job creation, affordable education and new investments in manufacturing, as well as ensuring the state gets is fair share of federal money, dismissed the charges.
"The only name on the ballot will be that of Don Norcross," he said. "The important thing here is my record, working for working families for my entire life."
An electrician by trade, he said he hopes to work with Republicans in Washington to get things done for his constituents, just as he worked with Republican Gov. Chris Christie to pass landmark bail reform legislation.
"The sheer level of frustration from the average guy in the street about what's going on in Congress, it's horrible," he said.
© Coast Reporter