U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton’s pending retirement has dramatically increased the likelihood of Democrats picking up the seat, according to Washington-based political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.
On Friday, after Saxton’s announcement, Rothenberg reclassified the status of the third district Congressional seat in his Political Report from “Republican favored,” the least vulnerable category for competitive races, to “pure toss-up,” the most vulnerable.
But that could all change depending on who the Republicans recruit to face off against state Sen. John Adler.
“We thought it was going to be a race. We were waiting to see what kind of campaign Adler ran and what the environment was going to be,” said Rothenberg. “It didn’t seem like the best of opportunities, but now it’s turned out to be what could be one of the dozen best opportunities in the country depending upon Republican recruiting.”
An open seat combined with what’s likely to be a hostile environment for Republicans could turn this narrowly Republican leaning district in Democrats’ favor. But, Rothenberg noted, if the Republicans pick a moderate candidate with high name recognition, they might still have an edge – depending on how hostile voters remain to the Republican Party.
“You would think that, all things being equal, the district would tilt slightly towards Republicans,” said Rothenberg. “So a Republican like Diane Allen might have an edge in the race. We’re waiting to see how bad an environment is for Republicans – is it mediocre bad or really bad?”