For the first time since 1882, a Democrat will be sworn in as the next Congressman from New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. The perfect political storm known as the 2008 election has broken a 126-year drought and turned an impressive state Senator into a promising Congressman-Elect. But it was not a storm that “just happened”. It was a storm that was planned and executed with precision.
State Senator John Adler announced his campaign for Congress to challenge then sitting Congressman Jim Saxton very early, on September 20, 2007. From the beginning, Adler waged his campaign on progressive values; his decision to challenge Saxton came shortly after Saxton voted against expanding S-CHIP. This would have been his second time challenging Saxton (Adler ran in the then 13th Congressional district in 1990), but on November 9, 2007 Congressman Saxton announced he would not seek re-election due to health reasons. Now the race was for an open seat, an easier proposition for Adler.
To understand the political dynamics at play, you first have to understand the geographic composition of the district. The 3rd District includes Cherry Hill in Camden County, most of Burlington County and a sizable chunk of Ocean County. On the Democratic side, the field cleared for Adler and he received the early support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. On the Republican side, many wanted Burlington County native State Senator Diane Allen to run. When she declined, Chris Myers emerged as the Burlington County Candidate.
Much more on the flip.