Frank Broomell has a familiar GW story: He left his South New Jersey hometown and came to the District to study international affairs and land a job on the Hill.
Now, the 2009 alumnus and Sicklerville, N.J. native is testing his political ambitions this spring with a long-shot bid for a seat in Congress.
“I’ve always been interested in politics and government. That’s the reason I applied to GW,” Broomell said. “Being so close to the State Department, having access to those professors, all of that fostered the growth of my interests.”
The 27-year-old announced last week his intentions to run for New Jersey’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, after Rob Andrews, D-NJ, resigned in February in the midst of an ethics investigation. Broomell faces an uphill battle against deep-pocketed state senator Donald Norcross, who has nabbed the endorsement of every Democrat in New Jersey’s congressional delegation.
Broomell has raised about $4,500, less than the $5,000 minimum needed to be included in Federal Election Commission reports. The Democratic primary for the seat is June 3.
“The other side has a lot of money behind them. We just need to get our name out there enough and let voters know who we are,” he said. “They are very excited to see a new face getting involved, and younger generations getting involved. It’s just a matter of building on that.”
Just two years over the constitutional age requirement for congressmen, Broomell says his youth will play to his advantage, offering voters a fresh start after Andrews served for 24 years.
After graduating and spending four years in the Marines from 2009 to 2013, he enrolled at Harvard University to pursue a master’s, but soon decided to put his academic aspirations on hold to run for the seat.
“This is really an election about changing the status quo. I know a lot of young adults who know that just because something has existed a certain way, doesn’t mean it should always exist that way,” Broomell said. “Coming from outside of the political machine adds onto that renewed vigor and energy.”
Broomell has vowed to tackle economic issues in his home state to “preserve the promise” of job opportunities for the middle class. The district’s median household income was $61,225, according to the U.S. Census – below average compared to the state as a whole.
“We’re facing a situation where economic and social mobility has stagnated. It’s becoming apparent that our generation is the first in a very long time which will be worse off financially than its parents,” he added.
Broomell will also prioritize education by encouraging a more open dialogue with teachers about issues in their classrooms so the government can help identify areas that need more services or funding.
“If we legitimately care about the futures of our students, the way to go forward is to talk to teachers. We need to do this as a country, not just in New Jersey,” he said.