It had the potential to be one of New Jersey’s few competitive races this cycle if rosy polls showing a lead for Hillary Clinton had held true. But a source close to the congressional campaign of Democrat Dave Cole, who ran in the state’s second district and pursued a heavily anti-Trump line of attack against longtime incumbent Frank LoBiondo, told Observer that the party lost ten points worth of Democrats support for Clinton compared with outgoing President Barack Obama in 2012.
Turnout, the source said, was also lower. As for Cole’s own race, he fared slightly better than LoBiondo’ 2014 opponent William Hughes Jr. with a three-point bump. LoBiondo defeated Hughes 61-37 that year.
The second district encompasses Atlantic City, which Cole used to his advantage by attacking LoBiondo on his acceptance of campaign donations from Donald Trump during an era when he repeatedly failed to pay contractors who worked on his casino empire there. Cole touted a Trump executive’s 1996 memo calling for colleagues to donate to LoBiondo’s reelection campaign by dropping off checks at his office, a violation of state campaign finance law at the time.
Despite the deeply blue and majority-black Atlantic City vote, LoBiondo has had one of the longest political careers of any politician from New Jersey because of the dependably Republican surrounding counties.
The one-time gaming capital of the East Coast served as a backdrop for one of Clinton’s earliest and most pointed attacks after Trump secured the Republican nomination, with the former secretary of state citing his record of bankruptcies in the resort town. Trump has filed four bankruptcies in the last 30 years, all involving his casinos in Atlantic City.
Clinton and Cole’s attacks evidently failed to land. As the Press of Atlantic City reported, LoBiondo came around to casting his vote for Trump after rescinding his endorsement in the heat of the controversy over the president-elect’s remarks about assaulting women.
LoBiondo took to Facebook to clarify his support on Wednesday.
“I congratulate President-elect Trump on his decisive victory and for setting the right tone in his victory speech of moving forward in a cooperative manner for the best interests of the country,” he wrote. “While I disagreed at times with the style and negativity of the campaign, I agree with many of his and the Republican party’s policy priorities.”
“I look forward to working with President-elect Trump on repealing Obamacare, strengthening our security at home and abroad, providing for our veterans, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, and stopping disastrous trade deals that are unfair for American workers. I have and always will continue to remain true to my roots and put South Jersey First.”
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.