Jon Runyan looked like a shoe-in for a 3rd term in a redistricted CD3 without Cherry Hill. The rapidly darkening Obamacare narrative wouldn’t have hurt.
Things certainly escalated quickly, didn’t they?
The incumbent is retiring and everyone wants to replace him.
The establishment reportedly favors former Freeholder Bruce Garganio (who has carpenter union backing), former Democrat Randy Brown who is the current Mayor of Evesham, or a Runyan-esque celebrity like former MLB pitcher Al Leiter.
And then there are those elected officials looking for advancement if the Burlington and Ocean organizations can’t quickly agree on an independent power-base candidate or a self-funder.
LD10 Assemblyman David Wolfe and Berkeley Township Council President James Byrnes have already publicly declared their intent to seek the Republican nomination; former rear admiral and Toms River Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill is actively contacting committee members and key players to gauge support.
Even outsiders want in. Two other GOP’ers — Randolph Township Mayor Tom MacArthur (in Morris County) and none other than former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (of Bergen County) — are weighing moves into the district.
Uncertainly is augmented by the antipathy or disinterest of obvious candidates like Sens. Chris Connors, Diane Allen and Dawn Addiego, the charismatic Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove or a proven vote getter like Burlco Freeholder Director Joseph Donnelly.
The mad dash is only partially attributable to the surprise nature of Runyan’s announcement and the abstention of district heavyweights. Political realities beyond CD3 are exacting a toll.
Gerrymandering has vastly limited the number of remotely-competitive congressional districts in New Jersey or, as we just confirmed, even competitive legislative districts for that matter. Republicans haven’t won a U.S. Senate Seat in Jon Runyan’s lifetime (Clifford Case won his final term in 1972; Runyan was born in 1973). Until 2013, a Republican hadn’t won a majority of the vote statewide since Tom Kean, Sr. in 1985.
At the same time, like we’ve already mentioned, CD3 is now a lean Republican district in cycle that’s looking pretty promising for the GOP as of today.
Long story short: if you’re a Republican looking to rise higher than the freeholder position, you might feel as if your down to two choices – (1) move to CD3 or (2) primary an incumbent. God help us!
We’ll wait to see if the party chairs or one of Governor Christie’s lieutenants steps in soon like they did in 2010 or, alternatively, if we’ve got a pretty messy primary coming up around the bend…