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Race Ratings: Democrats Likely to Lose Edge in New Jersey Delegation

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Bill Pascrell (above) has come out of the gate fighting in his primary race against fellow Democratic Rep. Steven Rothman.

Democrats lost big in New Jersey redistricting this cycle.

In reapportionment, the Garden State lost a House seat, and because no Members announced retirements, an independent commission had the grim task of pitting two lawmakers against each other.

The map technically drew Democratic Rep. Steven Rothman into Republican Rep. Scott Garrett’s 5th district, but Rothman opted instead to run in the 9th district against fellow Democrat Rep. Bill Pascrell. The winner will be decided in the primary, which will be the state’s top race to watch this cycle.

The level of competition that the state will see in November remains unclear. Democrats are hopeful that they can make Garrett sweat in the 5th district and that former Rep. John Adler’s (D) widow, Shelley, can take back her husband’s seat from freshman Rep. Jon Runyan (R). At this point, Republicans are confident they can hold both seats.

Overall, Democrats are bullish on the coattails that President Barack Obama and Sen. Bob Menendez will provide for House candidates. But thanks to the new map, the party will likely lose its current edge in the House delegation. Unless Democrats can pick off a seat, the new makeup will likely be six Republicans and six Democrats in 2013.

1st district
Incumbent: Robert Andrews (D)
11th term (63 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Redistricting made this seat safer for Andrews. He’s not as flush with money as other New Jersey politicians because of his failed 2008 Senate run, but this is a safe seat made safer, and no primary challenges are on the horizon.

2nd district
Incumbent: Frank LoBiondo (R)
9th term (66 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

On paper, this seat is competitive; in practice, it is not. So far.

Democrats anticipate Obama doing well in this district, but LoBiondo seems a safe bet for re-election. One national Democrat even said this seat demographically is easier to win than the state’s more closely watched districts, the 3rd and the 5th.

But a strong challenger to LoBiondo has eluded Democrats. National Democrats maintain they are still actively recruiting a candidate for this seat, but until a viable challenger emerges, LoBiondo will likely be coming back for a 10th term.

3rd district
Incumbent: Jon Runyan (R)
1st term (50 percent)
Rating: Leans Republican

Runyan narrowly beat Adler in 2010. Democrats had high hopes that he might be hurt in redistricting. Instead, the district was drawn to be slightly more favorable to Runyan’s re-election chances.

Adler’s widow, attorney Shelley Adler, announced her candidacy and will have built-in name identification in the district.

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