In the upcoming N. J. elections for the U. S. House of Representatives there are now three vacant seats. These Representatives have announced their resignations: Rob Andrews (D-CD1) first elected 1990, Rush Holt (D-CD12) first elected in 1998, and Jon Runyan (R-CD3) first elected 2010. Soon Democrats may take over a Republican seat, retain two Democratic seats with new members, and add two women to our delegation.
This is an unusual opportunity. In several recent past election there have been no vacancies and all incumbents have been re-elected. In a few past elections there has been one vacancy. For two vacancies you have to go back to 2008 – Mike Ferguson (R) succeeded by Leonard Lance (R) and Jim Saxton (R) succeeded by John Adler (D) – and 1996, Robert Torricelli (D) succeeded by Steve Rothman (D) and Dick Zimmer (R) succeeded by Mike Pappas (R). You have to go back to 1992 when there were three or more vacancies. In that election (22 years ago) there were actually four vacancies (Dwyer, Rinaldo, Roe, and Guarini.)
See more about this opportunity below the fold.
In CD 1 (a reliable Democratic district in parts of Burlington, Gloucester, and Camden Counties) the resignation announcement of Rob Andrews (D), after 24 years in office, operated like a smooth machine. Within minutes State Sen. Donald Norcross (D-5) announced his candidacy. The mechanic for the machine there will not have to spend a lot of effort to assure his brother’s election. Important Democratic friends of the mechanic (and some who fear him) wasted no time heaping praise on Donald Norcross and promising their fealty. It would be nice if a few brave Democrats were to challenge him in the primary. This is Democratic territory with a powerful mechanic, so Republican challengers must be brave, foolhardy, and willing to waste their time if they try to launch a serious Republican counter-attack.
In CD 3 (a slightly leaning Republican district in parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties) Jon Runyan (R) after four years decided his heart was not in this job and was discouraged by a bickering, dysfunctional House. His predecessor was John Adler (D) who won in 2008 with 52.1% of the votes. Preceding Adler was Jim Saxton (R) who held the seat for 24 Republican years. In 2010 Adler lost re-election to Runyan 50.0% to 47.3% and in 2012 Runyan won re-election 53.8%-44.8% against Shelley Adler, wife of the then deceased John Adler. So prior to Adler this seat was a safe one for Republican Jim Saxton. However, in the last six years both a Democrat and a Republican have gained the seat by 50% or more of the vote. Enter Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard a strong Democratic candidate who is a Featured Recommended Candidate on Emily’s List (a group which seeks to elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.) U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been raising money for her. As of December 31, 2013 Belgard reported to the FEC receiving $175,062 in net contributions and had $149,263 in Cash on Hand. There have been more Republicans expressing interest in this seat than one can count, including the ubiquitous Steve Lonegan. Expect large infusions of cash from independent funders (for and against candidates) and national groups contributing directly to individual campaigns.
In CD 12 (a Democratic district in parts of Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Union Counties) we lament the departure of Rush Holt (announced yesterday) after 16 years in office. In 1998 he defeated incumbent Mike Pappas (R) who had served for only two years and was preceded by Dick Zimmer (R) who served for six years. In his last election Holt won with 69% of the votes. State Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14) has announced she will run. She is a battle-tested candidate in both State Senate and Assembly races and a strong progressive. In addition, Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Trenton), Democratic Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-Somerset) and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) are weighing a run.