NJ-7 debates: Will GOP’s Leonard Lance snub Hunterdon, Somerset & Middlesex?

I live in Hunterdon County. Leonard Lance, whom I’ve known for years, is my congressman. It’s hard to explain to someone outside this crimson geography Hunterdon’s relationship with Lance. He’s a known presence on the street, as his father Wesley Lance –  who preceded him in both the Assembly and Senate – was. A friendly person, even if you don’t always agree.

Why then is Lance ducking a debate with his Democratic challenger, Ed Potosnak, here on Hunterdon home turf? I’m bamboozled.

Potosnak’s asked Lance to debate for months. Hearing nothing back, Potosnak accepted 6 debate invitations himself. Potosnak finally heard from Lance last week, a friendly call but without Lance agreeing on the number of debates, location, or dates. (Potosnak also invited Lance on a side-by-side grassroots tour of the District together – yes, he declined).

Now comes word Lance will accept just 2 debates – one for TV (hosted outside NJ-7), and only one in NJ-7 – in Union County. Far away from Lance’s home turf. Why is that? You’d think Lance would insist on at least one matchup here where he’s served the public his entire adult life, where his father’s political legacy still commands respect, where Chris Christie had victory just 11 months ago. Is he concerned his support in the reddest part of NJ-7 has eroded? Lance had 3 Tea Party-inspired opponents – the most of anyone in NJ. Two are from Hunterdon; David Larsen (Tewksbury), the strongest, who’s already signaled he’s running in 2012, and Alonzo “Lon” Hosford (Milford).

Still, I’m surprised Lance declines to stand up here in this county he’s represented for years, and face his opponent. Looks like Middlesex and Somerset get snubbed, too. Two years ago, he wanted more debate with Linda Stender.Is this the same guy? What happens next?  

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