Can Roy Cho Unseat New Jersey Incumbent for Congressional Seat?

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

A key test of Asian-American political power will take place in New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional district.

Asian Americans comprise nearly 10 percent of the state’s population, and Bergen County, with its high ­concentration of Asian Americans of Korean and South Asian descent, could make the difference for Democratic candidate Roy Cho.

Cho, 33, a Brown graduate and Georgetown University-trained corporate lawyer, is closing in on the GOP and Tea Party-supported incumbent Scott Garrett. According to a poll reported last week in the New York Times, Cho has come up to within five points of Garrett for the first time. Given the margin for error, the data puts Cho and Garrett in a statistical tie.

The poll showed Cho with 43 percent, but it also showed that 63 percent had no opinion of him. Cho’s surge may be due to a Garrett mailer that boasted of the incumbent’s support for relief in the area after Hurricane Sandy. Cho used it to hammer Garrett's record of reluctance in seeking aid.

When it came to recovery efforts, the Times reported, Garrett was muted and slow to act, fearing that aid could add to the federal deficit. But Garrett insists he ultimately did sign on with others seeking aid and says Cho is distorting his record.

The Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman tells the Times that Cho is “still a longshot," and that even winning in Bergen Count,y home to 70 percent of the district, may not be enough to upend Garrett. But Cho remains hopeful as he continued last minute fund-raising efforts last week, telling reporters at a fundraiser last week, “The Fifth Congressional District is right within our grasp."