BY TOM HESTER SR.
Gov. Chris Christie pinpointed where the action will be in the fall New Jersey Congressional election campaigns Tuesday night when he showed up at the Mount Laurel headquarters of Jon Runyan, who won the Republican nomination in the 3rd District in the primary election.
Runyan, 36, a former Philadelphia Eagles' lineman, will take on incumbent freshman Democratic Rep. John Adler in the swing district that covers part of Camden, Burlington and Ocean counties.
Republicans are hoping Runyan's celebrity and Democratic voters' displeasure with Adler for opposing President Obama's health care reform bill, considered the most important federal legislation since the civil rights laws of the 1960s, will help send the ex-football star to Congress.Adler, who has the support of the strong Camden County Democratic Party, is the first Democrat to represent the district since the 19th century. He has raised $2.25 million for his fall campaign compared to Runyan's $225,000.
Runyan defeated Justin Murphy of Tabernacle by 59 to 41 percent, while Adler beat challenger Barry Bendar of Forked River 75 to 25 percent.
Christie described Adler as a "Career politician'' who "knows how to con the people of New Jersey.''
Runyan is making his first run for public office. "People question me all the time about my experience,'' he told reporters. "They question my experience in politics, and the first thing I tell them is yea, I have no experience raising taxes over and over. I have no experience increasing the debt in a state.‘'
Democrats hold 8 of New Jersey's 13 Congressional seats and all of the incumbents from both parties won re-nomination Tuesday. Six were unchallenged.
But who will be the Republican candidate to challenge Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone in the 6th District remains undecided Wednesday. Tea Party Republican and Highlands Mayor Anna Little is leading Republican Party candidate Diane Gooch of Rumson by 105 votes out of 13,387 cast as election officials review the ballots. The district covers parts of Monmouth, Middlesex, Union and Somerset.
Gooch, a millionaire publisher, raised $432,000 to Little's $22,000.
The next event in New Jersey politics will occur next Tuesday and Wednesday when over 600 delegates representing 1,000 affiliated unions will convene at the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City for the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Legislative/COPE Endorsement Conference. The delegates will endorse candidates in the 13 Congressional races and three special legislative races in the Senate 5th and 14th districts and the Assembly 5th District. The endorsement decisions will be made Wednesday morning.In the 7th District in parts of Hunterdon, Somerset, Union and Middlesex, freshman Republican Rep. Leonard Lance defeated three challengers who campaigned that he is not conservative enough. Democrat Ed Potosnak of Scotch Plains will challenge Lance in the fall.
In the 4th District in Mercer, Burlington, Monmouth and Ocean, incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Smith defeated Tea Party Republican Alan Bateman of Colts Neck. Democrat Howard Kleinhendler of Lakewood will take on Smith in the fall campaign.
In the 11th District in parts of Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Sussex, incumbent Republican Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen will face Democrat Douglas Herbert of Chatham.
In the 1st District in parts of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester, Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews will be challenged by Republican Dale Glading of Burlington.
In the 2nd District in Salem and Cape May counties and parts of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties, Republican incumbent Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo will face Democrat Gary Stein of Mullica.
In the 5th District in Warren and parts of Bergen, Passaic and Sussex, incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Garrett will be challenged by Democrat Tod Theise of Washington.
In the 8th District in parts of Essex and Passaic, incumbent Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell will face Republican Roland Straten of Montclair.
In the 9th District in parts of Bergen, Hudson and Passaic, incumbent Democratic Rep. Steven R. Rothman will meet Republican Michael A. Agosta of Fairlawn.
In the 10th District in parts of Essex, Hudson and Union counties, incumbent Democratic Rep. Donald M. Payne will be challenged by Republican Michael J. Alonso of Bayonne.
In the 12th District in parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Somerset, Democratic incumbent Rush Holt will be opposed by Republican Scott Sipprelle of Princeton.
And in the 13th District in part of Hudson, Essex, Middlesex and Union counties, incumbent Democratic Rep. Albio Sires will be challenged by Republican Henrietta Dwyer of West New York.