GOP Rep. Jon Runyan’s retirement takes New Jersey’s 3rd District from the outskirts of the competitive race conversation to close to the epicenter.
Democrats have had their eye on the seat, considering President Barack Obama carried the district with 52 percent, although Runyan didn’t look particularly vulnerable. But as an open seat, the race should be much more competitive.
Obama won the district with 51 percent in 2008, but President George W. Bush carried it 52 percent to 47 percent in 2004, demonstrating the competitive nature of the district.
Runyan won the seat in the Republican wave of 2010 by defeating Democratic Rep. John Adler, 50 percent to 47 percent. Adler subsequently (and suddenly) passed away and his widow, Shelley, ran against Runyan in 2012. The congressman won re-election, 54 percent to 45 percent, in a race that Democratic strategists believed was going to be closer earlier in the cycle.
This time around, Democrats were talking up their candidate, Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, even before Runyan’s decision became public. But now that it is an open seat, other candidates could certainly take a look at the race. The filing deadline is April 11.