U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill), expecting a tough re-election campaign in a Republican-leaning district, was the only New Jersey Democrat to vote against the president’s health care reform legislation. Adler’s political calculation is that a no vote will help him among independents in a district that has not re-elected a Democratic congressman since Nathan Stratton (D-Swedesboro) won a second term in 1852. The problem for Adler now is the risk that he alienated part of his political base: progressive Democrats who may not work so hard to save him in the fall against his GOP challenger, former NFL star Jon Runyan.
In a Facebook post, Newark City Councilman Ronald C. Rice predicted that Adler will lose. “That’s why you can start calling his opponent Congressman Runyan. I rather have a Republican in that seat that I know is an actual Republican than one that supports Obama and progressive politics to get elected and then acts like a Repub,” Rice wrote. “Good riddance to him and all fair weather DEMS, we hardly knew ye all.” From Chris Oliveira, a Rutgers senior and Democratic activist: “If only I could take back the 80+ hours a week from May 08 on.”
In a way, Adler was also slapped around by the new Democratic State Chairman, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), who put out an 1,152-word press release praising the health care reform bill and the Democrats who passed it.
Adler faces a primary challenge from Barry Bendar, the Lacey Township Democratic Municipal Chairman. Bendar isn’t likely to pick off Adler, but the risk for the freshman Democrat is that Democratic primary voters will use the primary to send him a message – the way they did when Gov. Jon Corzine was held to 78% of the vote against a group of unknown primary rivals.