Republican Frank A. LoBiondo’s retirement from House puts swing N.J. district in play
Another House Republican announced his retirement Tuesday, putting a closely divided district at risk for the GOP.
Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R-N.J.), a 12-term congressman, said he would not seek reelection next year, citing in a statement the expected loss of key committee posts and an increasingly bitter political environment. ...
New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District includes much of the southern third of the state, including Atlantic City and shore towns stretching from Barnegat Light to Cape May. While LoBiondo has won comfortably since he was first elected, in 1994, the district is almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats and instantly becomes one of the most likely seats to switch parties in the 2018 midterms.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the district as having a one-point GOP lean. Its voters picked Donald Trump by five points over Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential race, but Barack Obama twice carried the district. Numerous Democrats hold state and local offices in the district and could be formidable candidates.
There are also signs that the national Republican agenda is unpopular in the district: LoBiondo voted against the GOP health-care bill earlier this year that would have undone much of the Affordable Care Act. And he has withheld support for the pending GOP tax bill, citing its disproportionate impact on his constituents through the loss of key deductions.
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Cook Political Report
LoBiondo Retirement Moves NJ-02 from Solid Republican to Toss Up
In a blow to House Republicans, popular moderate GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) announced he will not seek another term in 2018, citing both term limits on his chairmanship of the House Aviation subcommittee and a "vocal and obstinate minority within both parties" that has "hijacked good legislation in pursuit of no legislation." His decision moves his South Jersey seat all the way from Solid Republican to Toss Up.
Since his first election in 1994, LoBiondo had forged a close relationship with organized labor, insulating him from electoral danger in a district that includes Atlantic City. This helped him become politically untouchable, even when the district leaned Democratic at the presidential level. In many ways, his blue-collar appeal predated President Trump's. In 2016, Trump won the district 51 percent to 46 percent while LoBiondo won reelection by 22 points.
Trump's breakthrough gives GOP operatives hope they can hold onto this seat, even in difficult conditions. But Democrats do have a bench here. For years, Democrats have tried and failed to convince state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who hails from the more Republican Cape May part of the 2nd District, to run. Now, Van Drew says he is interested but won't make an immediate decision. There are plenty of Democratic local officeholders in Cumberland and Gloucester counties too.
LoBiondo's exit, coupled with Arizona GOP Rep. Martha McSally's increasingly likely Senate run, means Democrats' route to the majority is more plausible than it was a week ago. It could also further marginalize the remaining moderates in the House GOP.
How progressives got steamrolled in New Jersey
Jeff Van Drew has voted against raising the minimum wage and gay marriage. He often sides with industry on environmental issues and carries an A rating from the NRA. And he’s the odds-on favorite to be New Jersey’s newest Democratic congressman.
In the party’s first real crack at winning the South Jersey-based district held by retiring Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) for more than two decades, the Democratic Party establishment — at every level — is throwing its collective weight behind Van Drew, leaving local progressives baffled, frustrated and more than a little angry.
The race is a showcase for whether the Democratic Party nationally will tolerate politicians like Van Drew, a state senator, in the name of winning the majority in the U.S. House for the first time since 2011. It highlights Democrats’ struggles to blend their stated ideals on issues like diversity and gun control with the political realities of a district, in this case a working-class bastion that voted for President Donald Trump by 4 points after twice voting for President Barack Obama.
Nationally, the Democratic Party has seen a surge of progressive activism in the wake of Trump’s election, and New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District is no exception. So liberal activists, who frequently gathered in front of LoBiondo’s office to demand a town hall meeting that never came, have turned their ire on Democratic leaders. ...
But don’t look for a nail-biter primary like in Illinois, where conservative Democrat Dan Lipinski narrowly survived a primary challenge last month.
The 2nd District, New Jersey’s southernmost and largest geographically, includes Atlantic City’s gleaming casino towers, farmland and the poorest county in the state. It’s more working class than its New Jersey counterparts to the north, with the lowest percentage of college-educated residents in the state. And Van Drew has represented the district’s most Republican portion in the state Senate and Assembly for 16 years, comfortably winning reelection despite several major GOP efforts against him.
Mikie Sherrill and other women 'appalled' by Donald Trump make record run for Congress ...
Meanwhile, another candidate who has garnered considerable media attention this primary, Tanzie Youngblood, 62, a retired teacher from Gloucester County, is a long-shot for the Democratic nomination in the Second Congressional District in South Jersey -- another seat being vacated by a retiring Republican congressman, Frank LoBiondo, who held the seat since 1995. ...
Youngblood touts a progressive platform that she believes is in sync with the grassroots in this sprawling district that stretches across the rural belly of South Jersey, from the banks of the Delaware River to Atlantic City. She advocates for a single-payer system of health care, supports a movement to impose tighter campaign finance restrictions, and opposes privatization of public education.
But unlike Sherrill, the eight county committees in her district quickly anointed veteran state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a socially conservative Democrat from Cape May county who holds a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association.
Van Drew also has the backing of South Jersey democratic leader George Norcross III, perhaps the state's most influential unelected Democrat, and the DCCC, which view a Democratic takeover of the Second District as crucial in the Democratic Party's bid to regain control of the House.
Youngblood, however, is positioning herself as the woman-against-machine outsider in this race.
She argues that the county leaders who she says turned a deaf ear to her requests for support, are simply out of touch with a restive, party base. They are disgusted by Trump and believes the Democratic rank-and-file will reject Van Drew, who is "masquerading as a Democrat,'' she says
New Jersey’s Second Congressional District: a retirement gives Democrats a big opportunity
Who are the Democrats? State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood, former Cory Booker aide Will Cunningham, and farmer Nathan Kleinman.
Who are the Republicans? Engineer Hirsh Singh, former Assembly member Samuel Fiocchi, lawyer Seth Grossman, and former FBI agent Robert Turkavage.
What’s the story? Democrats were thrilled when Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo decided to retire after 24 years in Congress because it gave them an opportunity to contest this district at the southern end of New Jersey. Since Trump won this district by about 4 points, the party thought that Jeff Van Drew, a moderate state senator, would be their strongest nominee.
Van Drew’s record (he’s voted against same-sex marriage and often backs business interests on environmental matters) could make him vulnerable in a primary, so a few candidates have jumped in to try their luck against him. Tanzie Youngblood has gotten the most attention, as a progressive black woman running against a moderate white man with the backing of the state’s establishment. But Van Drew had raised more than six times as much money as Youngblood.
Meanwhile, the Republican field is generally viewed as weak — even National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Steve Stivers said the race was a “recruiting hole for us” in late April (though he later tried to walk that back). Singh leads in county party endorsements, which are particularly important in New Jersey because they’re printed on the ballot — he won four of eight county GOP endorsements in the district.
dKos Elections: NJ-02: Conservative Democrat Jeff Van Drew has a comfortable 57-21 lead on his nearest opponent, Tanzie Youngblood, but the GOP battle is a much tighter affair. Seth Grossman has a 37-33 lead on Hirsh Singh with 41% reporting, a race that NRCC chair Steve Stivers described as a Republican “recruiting hole” after the filing deadline closed.
New York Times
Candidate Vote Pct.
Jeff Van Drew 6,870 57.0%
Tanzie Youngblood 2,516 20.9
William Cunningham 1,608 13.3
Nate Kleinman 1,068 8.9
12,062 votes, 45% reporting (235 of 523 precincts)
Candidate Vote Pct.
Seth Grossman 4,449 36.5%
Hirsh Singh 4,113 33.8
Sam Fiocchi 2,896 23.8
Robert Turkavage 725 6.0
12,183 votes, 45% reporting (235 of 523 precincts)