Rep. Jon Runyan is favored to win re-election in New Jerseys 3rd district.
While the Runyan campaign seems to be restraining its criticism, money from outside groups such as super PACs could complicate his re-election efforts, according to prominent New Jersey Democratic attorney Donald Scarinci. An outside group that portrays Adler too harshly could build voter sympathy for her, even if Runyan’s campaign is not involved directly.
Regardless of super PAC involvement, a competitive race in the 3rd district will be expensive for both parties. The district’s location in the pricey Philadelphia and New York media markets increases the need for strong fundraising.
Adler collected about $311,000 in the first quarter, narrowly surpassing her opponent’s $296,000 raised.
The race has also drawn the attention of national political organizations. The National Republican Congressional Committee has included Runyan in its Patriot program, which protects vulnerable GOP incumbents. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has listed the race on its Red to Blue program in the top tier of seats the party hopes to pick up this cycle.
Both the DCCC and the NRCC have reserved more than $3.5 million for television time in the Philadelphia market, which includes the 3rd district. The committees can change the allocation of ad time as the election season progresses, but ad reservations are an early indication of each party’s most consequential races.
EMILY’s List, a prominent and well-funded political organization that supports Democratic women committed to abortion rights, has endorsed Adler.
Beyond a gaffe by Runyan or his supporters, observers said high turnout for the re-election efforts of Obama and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) could provide an alternate path to victory for Adler. Obama and Menendez are expected to win easily in the state. A substantial margin of victory could boost Adler, who will appear lower on the ballot.
The most significant changes to the race after redistricting this year were the removal of Cherry Hill, a town that has voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in the past, and the addition of the GOP-dominated community of Brick. The district also gained a number of smaller towns that typically vote Democratic, but those areas are not as heavily populated as Brick and Cherry Hill.
Observers described Adler as both energetic and hard-working in her efforts to unseat Runyan. But Democratic and Republican insiders alike said that ultimately the fate of the race may be out of her hands.
“She’s been a pretty aggressive campaigner and fundraiser, [but] it’s still leaning Republican,” Scarinci said. “It’s his to lose. It’s absolutely his to lose.”