Feb. 11, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Runyan Retirement Sparks Rare Open N.J. Seat

Democrats are applying the same logic to Runyan’s 3rd District and, to a lesser extent, to six-term Rep. Scott Garrett’s 5th District. President Barack Obama carried both the LoBiondo and Runyan districts in 2008 and 2012, and he lost Garrett’s district with just 48 percent.

Last month, former federal prosecutor Bill Hughes Jr., a Democrat, announced his campaign for the Atlantic City-based 2nd District. He is the son of William J. Hughes, who once held that seat.

Democrats also say state Sen. Jeff Van Drew could run for the seat, along with Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald and state Sen. Jim Whelan. But if Democrats are unable to unseat LoBiondo in a race, state operatives are confident they can pick up the seat whenever he retires.

Thanks to the Runyan retirement, New Jersey has a truly competitive race on its hands.

Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, a Democrat, is running for the seat, and the field is quickly clearing for her. She might also get backing from EMILY’s List.

Republicans say the following contenders are in a position to run for Runyan’s seat: former Mets and Yankees pitcher Al Leiter, Evesham Township Mayor Randy Brown, Burlington County Freeholder Director Joseph Donnelly, state Sen. Dawn Addiego and state Sen. Christopher J. Connors.

Out of the trio of somewhat competitive House districts, Democrats will have the toughest task in Garrett’s Bergen County-based 5th District.

“That’s a seat that they [the DCCC] could work on ... if they get a solid legislator with a decent name and a decent base of support,” a New Jersey Democratic operative said. Still, the numbers are favorable to Republicans.

Democratic attorney Roy Cho filed his statement of candidacy in mid-April, but there is little evidence of institutional support coming his way. Democrats say state Sen. Bob Gordon and Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur are also impressive up-and-comers in the district.

As for Republican pickups, one long-shot opportunity could be Pallone’s 6th District — only if he retires. But Pallone is not expected to leave anytime soon, along with the rest of the delegation.

Then again, this is New Jersey, and anything can happen.

Farm Team is a weekly, state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress.

An earlier version of this article misstated Jack M. Ciattarelli's title. He is a state assemblyman.

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