The Cook Report has moved New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District race to a toss-up.
The election analysis newsletter that bills itself as non-partisan had rated the race “lean Democrat” as incumbent Democrat John Adler has been ahead in the polls throughout the race.
The report, dated October 8, does not say what information led to the change, but the Adler camp took a serious shot Friday when the Courier Post broke the story that a thrid party candidate who had claimed he was “Tea Party backed” was reported to be a plant put in place by the Adler campaign to siphon votes from Republican Challenger Jon Runyan.
The story gained national attention as third party “shill” candidates have been the subject of intense scrutiny this election season.
Tea Parties throughout New Jersey have disavowed the candidate, Peter DeStephano, who first surfaced last summer when an Alder poll showed him pulling in a sizable portion of the vote. Until that poll, DeStephano’s candidacy had operated in obscurity.
Friday, the Adler camp was bunkered down, refusing to respond to emails and phone calls for comment on the allegations made by sources within the Dmeocratic Party.
The New Jersey 3rd is the most competitive race in the state and some pundits say the only one with a chance of changing hands. Runyan has not had the drawing power many had hoped, but the district has traditionally leaned Republican and the GOP hoped that absent the Obama coattails that aided Adler in 2008, Republicans can regain the seat held for mroe than two decades by popular Republican Jim Saxton, who chose not to stand for re-election in 2008.
Overall, the report puts the chances of Repubicans taking contol of the House at better than even.
From the report:
“Republican control of the House isn’t a done deal, but the chances of Republican gains in excess of 45 seats are still better than their chances of falling short of 40 seats. Overall, as early voting gets underway in many states and the DCCC gets a late start on its independent expenditure effort, there are now 22 Democratic seats in the Lean or Likely Republican columns, 38 Democratic seats in the Toss Up column, and an additional 30 Democratic seats are in the Lean Democratic column. Just two GOP seats are in the Lean Democratic column. Overall, we view 78 incumbents in 37 states as vulnerable, including 74 Democrats and just four Republicans.”