As the GOP in Burlington and Ocean counties huddles up this month to find a replacement candidate for retiring U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is making fun of the field of potential candidates – and seizing on the chance to poke at federal-level Republicans.
“No one in their right mind wants to run under the toxic banner of the reckless Republican Congress,” said Marc Brumer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“The only Republican candidates who have shown even the slightest interest in running are either radical Tea Party ideologues, dogged by scandal, or back bench party hacks who’ve spent their careers pushing the ideas that would hurt families,” Brumer added. “If any of these candidates think they can win on their failed, out-of-touch records at a time when the irresponsible Republican Congress is hurting South Jersey’s economy and jeopardizing jobs now more than ever – good luck.”
The “radical Tea Party” swipe targets former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, who has indicated a willingness to run if the establishment wants him.
Others in the mix include former Freeholder Bruce Garganio, Evesham Mayor Randy Brown and Assemblyman David Wolfe, but no one to date has emerged as the clear front-runner to succeed Runyan.
The national-level Democrats point out that President Barack Obama won a majority of the vote across the district in 2008 (51.7% of the vote) and again in 2012 (52.3%). In 2012, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) carried the district with 52.6 percent of the vote and the late Senator Frank Lautenberg carried the district in 2008 with 50.5 percent of the vote.
But congressional redistricting made CD 3 more, not less, Republican, and so far only Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard has stepped forward to run for the seat as a Democrat.
Republican consultant Chris Russell scoffed at the DCCC’s needling.
“If the DCCC couldn’t even come close to winning this district in 2012, they’re deluding themselves to think they can win it now – especially with an underwhelming candidate like Aimee Belgard,” Russell said. “I look forward to Freeholder Belgard trying to explain to middle class families and seniors why she supports a big government takeover of healthcare that is causing insurance premiums to skyrocket and existing plans to be cancelled after these folks were promised that would never happen. Good luck with that.”