Democrats have had their eye on the South Jersey seat for years, particularly after President Barack Obama won the seat by 8 points in 2012. But the party has struggled to find a credible candidate against the congressman, considering his close ties to organized labor.
But now that the seat is open, there is no guarantee the GOP nominee will have similar connections. At the same time, President Donald Trump carried the 2nd District by nearly 5 points while he lost by more than a dozen points statewide. And Democrat Cory Booker lost the 2nd District to Republicans in both the 2013 (53 percent to 46 percent) and 2014 (50 percent to 47 percent) Senate elections, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections.
Potential Democratic candidates include state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (whom Democrats have been trying to get to run for years) and retired state Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten. Potential Republican candidates include Assemblyman Chris Brown (who is on the ballot today for state Senate), Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles, and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, who is up for re-election Tuesday as well.
The dust isn’t even close to settled on the potential candidate fields, so it’s unclear how great of a takeover opportunity this is for Democrats. But it’s better than it was Tuesday morning when LoBiondo was running for re-election. We’re changing the Inside Elections rating from Solid Republican to Leans Republican.
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