Shelley Adler kicks off her CD 3 Campaign in Marlton

MARLTON – Making the middle class and small business her foundations for running and decrying the lack of women leadership in New Jersey’s delegation, Attorney Shelley Adler formally launched her campaign for Congress this morning in the 3rd District against incumbent Jon Runyan (R-3).

“As our member of Congress I’ll fight to relax credit restrictions so small businesses can meet their payrolls, expand their businesses, and purchase new equipment,” said Adler, standing outside Andrea’s Boutique on Route 70 and flanked by two of her four sons.

“And I’ll work for a fair tax code that rewards hiring and new innovation, and not shipping jobs overseas,” added the Harvard Law School-educated daughter of immigrants. “Small business is no small thing in America, and it’s no small thing to me.”

Adler defined her incumbent opponent, Republican Runyan, as a friend of powerful special interests dressed up as a fiscal conservative.

“Just like life, elections are about choices,” she said. “And there will be a clear choice in this campaign between Mr. Runyan and myself. In the name of fiscal conservatism, Jon Runyan voted to eliminate Medicare. He voted to increase out-of-pocket Medicare costs by $6,000. He voted to defund life saving women’s preventive healthcare programs. He voted to reward multimillionaires and big oil companies with more tax breaks, while middle-class families and small businesses continue to struggle against the burden of our tax code. That’s not fiscal conservatism. That’s fiscal delusion.”

The contest inevitably evokes a revenge factor for Adler.

In pursuit of his second term, Runyan defeated Adler’s husband, U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-3) in 2010. It was a rough, contentious campaign, though Republicans close to Runyan say the two men never showed each other any personal animosity and the congressman made a gracious concession phone call to the Republican victor on Election Night.

Following his departure from elected life, Mr. Adler died of a heart ailment.

The Democratic candidate didn’t say today that her motivation in running against Runyan was personal. Asked if the former Eagles offensive lineman is qualified to be in Congress, Adler said, “That’s for the voters to decide.”

His no vote on President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform package dogged Congressman Adler in his own party as he sought to win re-election in the Republican-leaning 3rd District.

“I’m looking forward, not backward,” said Adler, when asked how she would have voted on healthcare reform. “John explained his reasons.”

Republicans exited the congressional redistricting process rejoicing over a map that added GOP-heavy Brick and withdrew Democratic Cherry Hill from the 3rd District, making the South Jersey district even less Democratic Party-friendly than it was when Adler beat the odds in his 2008 race.

But “this is a very competitive district,” Shelley Adler insisted. “I’m going to win.”

In this, a presidential election year, her allies point out the Obama coattail effect, and argue that the district became better in terms of generating Obama votes, at least according to Obama’s 2008 vote-totals. Republicans don’t believe those votes will be there this time for a battered incumbent president.

Shelley Adler kicks off her CD 3 Campaign in Marlton