New Jersey’s District 3: A Democratic Pick-Up?

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By Michael M. Shapiro

Much of the talk in New Jersey regarding contested Congressional seats this Fall has centered around District 7, where Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Stender is running against Republican State Senator Leonard Lance to fill the House seat vacated by retiring Republican Congressman Michael Ferguson (R-7).

The most likely Democratic pick-up, however, is actually in District 3, where Democratic State Senator John Adler is battling Republican Christopher Myers to fill the seat of retiring Congressman James Saxton (R-3). Adler has raised approximately two million dollars for his run and as a popular State Senator from Cherry Hill who is well-respected for his policy-making abilities and breadth of knowledge regarding State and Federal issues, he is a formidable opponent of Mr. Myers, the Mayor of Medford, New Jersey and Lockheed-Martin Vice-President.

After a tough primary, Myers had only a little more than $150,000 on hand, compared to $1.9 million for Senator Adler. Popular retiring Congressman Jim Saxton won re-election in 2006 with 58% of the vote. Given the unpopularity of President Bush in New Jersey and the support by Myers of many Bush policies, Senator Adler has both the financial and political edge.

Myers’ best hope is that the November election becomes a referendum on national defense. Given Senator John McCain’s presumed advantage regarding the issue, McCain may make the race for President in New Jersey closer than it has been in recent years. This would provide an electoral edge for Myers, whose district is more Republican than many other parts of the State. In addition, as Vice President of Lockheed-Martin, Myers can speak to national defense issues in a way that Senator Adler most likely cannot, providing Myers with a potential advantage.

That said, so far the national Republican Party has not come to the aid of Myers who was chosen as the nominee in large part because of promised fundraising prowess, which has yet to materialize. Should the Republican not be able to close the fundraising gap with Adler, and given the current dynamics of the race in which the economy and the President’s domestic policies have taken center stage, the race is currently Adler’s to lose.

This may come as a shock to those accustomed to viewing the Third Congressional seat in New Jersey as a safe Republican seat with strong defense advocate Jim Saxton at the helm. However, with Saxton out of the picture, the view has shifted markedly. Adler’s significant fundraising advantage coupled with both the unpopularity of President Bush in New Jersey and the dominance of domestic issues in the race raises the possibility that the Third Congressional seat is no longer safely Republican; it is conceivable that it can change hands in November.

Michael M. Shapiro, founder of ShapTalk.com, is an attorney who resides in New Providence. He currently serves as the editor of The Alternative Press, www.thealternativepress.com. Contact Mike at mike@shaptalk.com.


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