When it comes to New Jersey, the existing congressional district lines seem to make the results of the upcoming midterm elections fairly static in the state. Of the 13 congressional seats that New Jersey sends to Washington, D.C., five are held by Republican and eight are held by Democrats. That 5 to 8 ratio is actually exceptionally well balanced when compared to other states in the region like Connecticut, New York, Maryland, or Massachusetts. For the most part, despite the anti-incumbent, anti-Democrat sentiment that exists, most of New Jersey’s representatives are on ground that is relatively more solid than some of their other counterparts nationwide.
But New Jersey Democrats are not feeling very comfortable. In fact many are worried. Some more than others.
Some Republicans may also find themselves having a harder time than usual. Leonard Lance, Chris Smith and Frank LoBiondo may face primary challengers after they went and voted for the extreme liberal tax scheme known as Cap-and-Trade. Having declined my own opportunity to challenge my Congressman, Chris Smith, I do know that a challenge to his nomination is being quite seriously contemplated. The same may apply to LoBiondo and Lance. As three of the only eight Republicans in Congress to support Cap-and-Trade, many Republicans feel that we need nominees that better reflect our belief in limited government, less spending and state rights. Voting for Cap-and-Trade was as removed from those principles as one could get.
However, it is not likely that those challenges will be successful.
Smith, LoBiondo and even Lance, a congressional freshman, have a strong following and oodles of dough that will allow them to buy their nomination come the June 8th primary. And that is all they really need, because in their districts, the Republican nomination is normally tantamount to victory in the general election.
The same goes for most of the Democrats in the Garden’s State’s congressional delegation. But none of them are totally confident under this anti-incumbent environment that seems to be hurting Democrats much more than Republicans. Three Democrats are especially concerned………Frank Pallone, John Adler, and Rush Holt.
Pallone’s district is heavily Democratic and he has more campaign cash on hand than any other Congressman…………..$4 million. Pallone is strong in his Central New Jersey district, but as we have seen, the strength that Democrats have normally been able to count on is not there these days. Pallone’s district also produced unusually large pluralities for a Republican when they overwhelmingly supported Chris Christie for Governor over Democrat incumbent Jon Corzine. So he could be in trouble, especially if a decent and aggressive Republican candidate who can tap into the money needed to compete with Pallone materializes. And that candidate might have arrived.
Congressman Pallone has never faced a challenger who could be defined as a serious threat. But that could be different this time.
The millionaire publisher of New Jersey’s Two River Times newspapaer, Diane Gooch, is said to be willing to run and invest 2 million of her own money into her race and raise the rest through donations. If that’s true, Pallone could be, at the very least, in the race of his life. And no one deserves a good challenge more than him.
Pallone is one of the most vocal liberal legislators in the state. He supports anything and everything liberal and when it comes to economic policy, Frank Pallone does nothing but vote for pork and any measure that will spend taxpayer money. Frank Pallone is of the school of hought that believes when we are going through good economic times, it is the federal government’s moral obligation to spend. But on the flipside,when we are going through tough economic times, Frank Pallone is of the school of thought that believes we have to spend our way out of those bad times. In other words, Pallone’s answer to everything is spend, spend and spend more……..accept for when it concerns securing our nation’s borders or our military capabilities. That is where he supports spending cuts.
It is with this fire for spending that Pallone hopes to someday soon run for statewide office, more specifically the US Senate. So it would be nice to see him be taken out now, while he is in the lower house. If Diane Gooch does decide to run, she may be the one to do it.
My suggestion is, if she is serious about winning the office, Gooch should make it a two cycle campaign.
Diane Gooch is unknown and this first time out will really just allow her to get some of the name recognition that Pallone already has. So if Diane Gooch runs hard, gets known and makes this a real close race, she will have made a name for herself and in two years, when Republicans have a strong presidential nominee at the top of the ticket, she can run again and in that race, she will probably put Pallone out of our misery.
Even more fertile territory for Republicans is another district that runs from portions of South Central Jersey and into sections of South Jersey. That seat is held by John Adler, a freshman elected in the Obama landslide of ‘08. The district is a Republican one. Prior to Adler, it was held by Republicans for over a decade, but the incumbent GOP congressman retired and in this open seat, the Republican nominee fumbled while Adler ran a relatively smooth campaign. The combination of the two, combined with the Obama wave, swept Adler in. But the tide has tuned and John Adler is facing a short lived Congressional career.
To make matters worse for Adler, his likely opponent will be a former Philadelphia Eagles football player, Jon Runyon. For a South Jersey district that is heavily influenced by Philadelphia, there are few things better than the ability to appeal to the legions of loyal Eagles fans who will gladly vote for you over the Congressman whose name most of them do not know. For all these reasons, it is safe to say that John Adler is one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the nation and probably one of the many that will go down in November.
The other of the most competitive races pit’s a popular conservative Central New Jersey Mayor against a six term incumbent Democrat whose greatest claim to fame is that he lays low. Holt is the champion of nothing other than supporting innocuous, feel good legislation and quietly casting his lot with liberals on every hot button issue. From the government takeover of healthcare to Cap-and-Trade, Rush Holt is there. But while Rush Holt has Nancy Pelosi’s back, voters in his district are wondering who has their back?
Answering that question is Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre.
Halfacre is a conservative leader who brings to the table much more than any past challengers of Holt.
Articulate, believable, experienced, energetic and accomplished, Mike Halfacre, is the type of leader that people want to see representing them in Washington. Republicans see Halfacre as principled but pragmatic, reliable and respectable. Tea Party enthusiasts find Mayor Halfacre’s record exemplary and promising. They see a leader who has streamlined government and reduce debt all while lowering taxes. His Administration reduced Fair Haven’s debt burden by selling off unused property, saved the Borough $100,000 by consolidating the office of Borough Engineer with Department of Public Works.
Those and other belt tightening measures allowed Mike Halfacre to reduce property taxes in Fair Haven for the first time in decades and still abide by the wishes of voters who saw the need for a Recreation Director. Mayor Halfacre was then able to increase Borough programs for children and seniors while paying the salary of the full-time Recreation Director through fees paid on new programs. Not by taxpayers.
In other words, Tea Part protestors have no reason to protest Mike Halfacre. He is the type of leader that believes that government must get out of the way and not be a burden to the people, but rather an asset.
All of this is in stark contrast to Rush Holt who has never seen a government program unworthy of funding and never seen an issue or problem that didn’t need a new government program to fund.
Altogether, the three races highlighted here are typical for the 80 to 90 congressional seats that, nationally, the Republican Party will be assisting to wage the most aggressive campaigns in. They are seats occupied by Democrats who, with the right push, can be taken down quicker than a grass hut in a hurricane. And in New Jersey candidates like Mayor Mike Halfacre are the “right push” we need.