2018: The NJ path toward flipping Republican congressional districts – Part IV: Leonard Lance’s CD7

Part IV looks at the vulnerable incumbent Representative Leonard Lance in CD 7 where resistance efforts have made an impact, his voting record has been lacking, Hillary Clinton won in 2016, and challengers are gaining steam. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is planning to target Lance and three other Republican NJ representatives.

CD 7 Leonard Lance (R) (pictured left)

Below is registered voter data, election results, and in presidential years election presidential results.
2010 U: 196,268, D: 120,111, R: 107,174 / Lance: 105,084, Potosnak: 71,902
2012 U: 229,833, D: 115,,870, R: 146,608 / Lance: 175,704, Chivikula: 123,090 / Presidential: Romney: 52.5, Obama: 46.3
2014 U: 233,240, D: 117,335, R: 146,532 / Lance: 104,287, Kovach: 68,232
2016 U: 224,103, D: 142,348, R: 158,989 / Lance: 185,850, Jacob: 148,188 / Presidential: Clinton: 49%, Trump 47.5%

In 2010 there were more registered D’s than R’s but in 2012 the registered Democrats decreased and the Republicans increased substantially, probably as result of reapportionment. Between 2010 and 2016 R’s gained 52,000 registered voters and D’s gained only 22,000. Finding and registering more D’s is important in order to help Democratic candidates target their likely supporters.

In contrast with some other Republican strongholds in the past, in CD 7 the Democrats have put up qualified challengers and still not broken through the wall. There is no reason to despair as the groundwork is being laid with resistance efforts. NJ7 Forward started with protests against the Affordable Care Act repeal. More such activities are needed. These efforts gain the attention of the press which lays before the public Lance’s shortcomings that in the past often went unnoticed. With contentious bills in congress and Trump committing mayhem it is all the more important for activists to keep reminding the press and the public when Lance  is voting in favor of an injurious bill or acquiescing to uninformed Trump mandates. All too often Republicans will routinely vote Republican not out of malice but simply because they are unaware of how their representative is not voting in their favor but rather in the interest of the larger party ideology, corporate lobbyists, and big donors. A voter does not need to be a progressive to be concerned about Trump’s and congress’s actions on health insurance, tax reform, DACA, environment, and other issues. He or she just needs to be informed.

Here are some key votes for which Lance should be criticized:

  • In June he voted in favor of the “Repeal and Replace” health insurance bill which passed the house (HR1215) but fortunately failed in the Senate.
  • He supported the 2018 Concurrent Budget Resolution (HR Con Res 71) which makes huge cuts in medicare and medicaid and lays the foundation for the injurious tax reform plan.
  • While people agree that known criminal immigrants should be not be granted sanctuary, he voted in favor of the “No Sanctuary for Criminals” act (HR3003) which goes much further than its title suggests.
  • Most recently he voted for the Flood Reform Act (HR 2874), necessary to to replenish funds, but did not go far enough and incurred the wrath of Rep. LoBiondo (R) who attacked the bill for shortchanging the Jersey shore.
  • He also voted YES on numerous appropriation bills such as HR3354 which provide insufficient funding for Interior, Environment and related agencies.
  • For these and other bills on which he has voted go to Vote Smart.

On the current tax reform package Lance said on Nov. 9, “I think tax reform should benefit all Americans and not pick winner states over loser states.” He stuck to his guns and voted NO on the bill primarily because it ends and/or reduces the federal tax exemption on State/local taxes (SALT) including property tax and mortgage interest – harmful to high tax states like NJ and unfair as NJ contributes far more to the federal government than is returned to us. Nonetheless, even if the injurious SALT provisions are removed, this plan does little for the middle class, and much for corporations and the wealthy. Trump, for example, would escape estate tax, Alternative Minimum Tax, and gain advantages in the carry through and real estate provisions.

This district with a high median income of $95,000 and near 50% college graduation rate provides good soil for individuals who can follow political trends. We need a forceful challenger, hopefully with a hefty warchest and a powerful message to advocate for change.

So far a number of Democratic candidates have entered the race including: 

After six terms, Rep. Lance this time around is vulnerable and the The Cook Political Report rates CD 7 as “Lean (not Likely) Republican. His past strong election results and the slight preponderance of Republican registered voters suggest the battle will not be easy. Ongoing rallies/protest action, press attention, registering more Democratic voters, offering to volunteer, and donating funds will help. Can we flip this district? Yes we can.

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All registered voter and election results from NJ Division of Elections: Election Information Archive, except whereas otherwise indicated as in Presidential results.

Part I in this series provides introductory information and a deep dive into CD (2) where Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo is retiring and the district has more Democrats than Republicans. Read it here.

Part II looks at the incumbent Republican Representative Tom MacArthur (CD 3) – he of much wealth but a tarnished reputation in today’s era of Trump decline. Read it here.

Part III takes a dive into CD 4’s incumbent Chris Smith (R), a formidable vote getter, and CD 5’s incumbent Josh Gottheimer (D), a must-win who faces a strong challenge from Republicans. Read it here.

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