Democrat Jeff Van Drew Running for LoBiondo Seat in New Jersey

GOP incumbent’s retirement makes 2nd District more competitive for Democrats

Democratic State Sen. Jeff Van Drew is regarded as the top Democratic candidate for the seat New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo, above, is vacating in 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New Jersey State Sen. Jeff Van Drew announced Wednesday he’s running for the 2nd District, which will be an open seat in 2018. 

One of the most conservative Democrats in the state legislature, Van Drew has long been a top pick for the national party in this district, which voted for President Donald Trump by about 5 points, according to Daily Kos Elections.

Longtime GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s decision not to seek re-election earlier this month prompted Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales to move the 2nd District from a Solid Republican to Leans Republican race.

Although Democrats added the 2nd District to their target list early this year, knocking off the 12-term incumbent had always proved challenging, in part because of LoBiondo’s support from organized labor in South Jersey and his more moderate voting record. 

Watch: An Inside Look at Congressional Retirements

Van Drew announced his campaign with the support of all eight Democratic county chairs in the district. South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross urged Van Drew to run as soon as LoBiondo announced he wouldn't be seeking re-election. 

“Bipartisanship may have become a dirty word in Washington, but in the rest of the nation, we know it’s exactly what we need right now,” Van Drew said in a statement. “I want to be the kind of Congressman who reaches across the aisle to do what’s right for the entire country,” he added.

Van Drew was one of only two Senate Democrats in the state who voted against legalizing same-sex marriage.

Trump won 51 percent of the vote in the district last year, but former President Barack Obama twice carried it in 2008 and 2012.

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