U.S. Rep.-elect Jon Runyan is due to be sworn in today to his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The ex-Philadelphia Eagles lineman will be part of the largest Republican freshman class in more than 50 years. Runyan’s 3rd District seat was one of 63 Republicans took from Democrats in November, giving the GOP control of the House.
But Runyan, who beat one-term Democrat John Adler for the seat that before 2008 had been in Republican hands for decades, is not entering his new life quietly. The 6’7” Runyan, who tips the scales at more than 330 pounds, has already taken fire from Democrats for his role in a lavish fundraiser thrown by about a dozen incoming Republicans last night.
The Democratic National Committee savaged the freshman members – including Runyan – in a release accusing the GOP of hypocrisy for throwing the gala after denouncing special interests throughout the campaign. The $2,500 per plate event, held at Washington D.C.’s posh W hotel , features a performance by LeAnn Rimes.
“In the latest example of Republican hypocrisy, incoming U.S. Rep. – Elect Jon Runyan will begin his career in Washington by taking money from the special interests he claimed to oppose on the campaign trail.,” the release from DNC spokesman Michael Czin said. “Before he is even sworn into office Runyan will schmooze with lobbyists paying $50,000 at a lavish Washington hotel. While families in New Jersey are struggling, Runyan will be living the life of luxury, if even for one night, at the expense of special interest lobbyists. Jon Runyan has made it clear, before even casting his first vote, who it is that he really represents in Congress – not the people of New Jersey, but Washington insiders and lobbyists.”
Upon being sworn in, Runyan will take seats on three committees including the House Armed Services Committee, where he will have a say on the country’s defense budget.
But Runyan also will bring some uncertainty with him when he takes his seat. The 3rd District will no doubt be a battle ground again in 2012 as Runyan’s margin of victory was only three points in the historically Republican district.
President Obama, who carried the 3rd in 2008, helping to usher Adler into Congress, will again be on the ticket, likely boosting Democratic turnout.
Runyan’s name also has surfaced as a potential victim of redistricting as New Jersey is set to lose one Congressional seat, the result of population growth that lagged southern states. Runyan is the only freshman in the state’s delegation and some pundits think that makes him vulnerable when the straws are drawn.
But like the country, New Jersey has seen more rapid growth in the southern portion of the state, making the loss of a northern New Jersey seat more likely.