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New Jersey, one of the bluest states in the nation, currently has a 6-6 split in its Congressional delegation.  I think the prospects for picking up seats here are great if we are able to amass the resources necessary for the often overlooked Republican-held seats.  Case-in-point: the average Democratic seat has a PVI of D+18, while the average Republican seat has one of just R+4.

To give a brief overview, I believe that NJ-02 and NJ-03 are highly competitive, NJ-05 is within reach, NJ-07 and NJ-11 are within reach with a large amount of resources and NJ-04 is probably out of reach altogether.  The remaining districts are Safe Democrat.

NJ-02: D+1

Rep. Frank LoBiondo has held this swing seat since the Republican Revolution of 1994, and regularly wins with over 60% of the vote.  But make no mistake: LoBiondo has never had a real challenge until this year.  His past Democratic opponents include right-wing conspiracy theorists and candidates who raised no money whatsoever.  This year, he will be facing Bill Hughes, Jr, son of the district's former Congressman who defeated LoBiondo in 1992.

LoBiondo is a moderate when it comes to the environment and unions, cultivating a Christie-like image in the district that has kept him in Congress for this long.  Hughes is a former federal prosecutor, and is connected to the Democratic machine of George Norcross III which runs the Democratic Party in South Jersey.  Not what people on this site want to hear, but in these days of Republican gerrymanders, we cannot forfeit a D+1 district.

Hughes has just under 200K on hand to LoBiondo's 1.2 million.  He's going to need a lot more to stand a chance in this district, but I'm sure Norcross will be helping out somewhat.  The website isn't much, but here it is:

NJ-03: R+1

This is the only race in New Jersey getting national attention.  Rep. Jon Runyan is retiring after this term, setting up a massive primary on the Republican side of the aisle, while the Democrats have coalesced around Burlington County Freeholder (sort of a county council position) Aimee Belgard.  As a Freeholder, Belgard already represents about half of the district, albeit the half that leans Democrat.

The Republican race is a hot mess, but the major candidates are Tom MacArthur, a businessman worth hundreds of millions, and Steve Lonegan, the Tea Party challenger to Cory Booker last year.  Both men were small town mayors who recently relocated to the district (while this is certainly political opportunism, this does happen to be the district New Jerseyans retire to).  The establishment seems to like MacArthur, but it's too early to predict the Republican primary at this point.

Belgard has raised just under 200K so far, much less than what she'll need to win the district.  Here is a link to her website, which is still under construction:

NJ-04: R+7

This is, I think, a totally safe seat.  Angela Gandolfo is a good candidate, but a progressive can't win here, and she has yet to raise any money.

NJ-05: R+4

This is the race that has North Jersey Democrats salivating.  Uber-conservative Scott Garrett has represented this moderate district since 2003, staying in power by means of a large warchest and good operation in the district's more conservative parts.  He managed to beat back a serious challenge in 2008, but I would argue that his previous district was more Republican and that the Democrat running, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, was not a good cultural fit for the district.  This year, Garrett will be facing Roy Cho, a young Korean-American lawyer who has also worked in government.

Cho has raised over 200K so far, but he'll need much more to bring down Garrett, who has nearly 3 million in the bank.  Cho has also been pushing hard to be a part of Bill Maher's "Flip a District" program, and I think he has a good chance of being chosen considering Maher grew up in the district.  Regardless, Cho is in a very winnable race, and needs all of the help he can get, because it won't be long before he's buried in negative attacks.  His website is here:

NJ-07: R+6

Leonard Lance will be running for a 4th term this year, against the Democratic Mayor of the small town of Clinton, Janice Kovach.  Unfortunately, Kovach has not raised any money yet, and I'm afraid this race might be out of reach.

NJ-11: R+6

This one is a stretch, but I think it has potential with a good ground game.  Rodney Frelinghuysen has represented this district since 1994, and has won by pretty substantial margins since.  His opponent, Mark Dunec, is a financial consultant and first time candidate who has raised about 70K so far.

Dunec is certainly not a progressive, and his affiliation with AIPAC may put some Democrats off; however, he is probably the best we can hope for in this district until Frelinghuysen retires.  He has already raised more money to this point than most Frelinghuysen challengers did in the whole campaign, and unlike many of the above candidates, he has sketched out detailed issue positions on his website.  Frelinghuysen will probably be fine, but this race is at least somewhat winnable.

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Comment Preferences

  •  NJ-11 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md

    I lived there much of my life, so am familiar with the political terrain. Hadn't realized that in order to shore up Lance by giving him the old 11th's Somerset towns, and part of Morris, they weakened the R stranglehold here by also adding in more of heavily Dem Essex and more of Dem-leaning Passaic.

    The real problem with this district is that there's absolutely NO Dem bench in Morris/Sussex to speak of at all, while relying on Essex/Passaic for candidates means they're unfamiliar to a significant majority of the voters.

  •  Frelinghuysen dynasty (0+ / 0-)

    Looking at the Congressional Biographical Directory, members of the Frelinghuysen family have been representing New Jersey since the 18th century. This seems to be unmatched by any other family in US history.

    1. Frederick Frelinghuysen (1753-1804), the present Congressman's great-great-great-great-grandfather, was a member of the Continental Congress in 1779 and a US Senator 1793-96.

    2. Theodore Frelinghuysen (1787-1862) (great-great-great grandfather) was a US Senator 1829-35 and the Whig candidate for Vice President in 1844.

    3. Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen (1817-1885) (great-great grandfather) was US Senator 1866-69 and 1871-77. He was also the US Secretary of State 1881-85.

    4. Joseph Sherman Frelinghuysen (1869-1948 (a cousin) was US Senator 1917-23.

    5. Peter Hood Ballantine Frelinghuysen (1916-2011) (father) was a member of the House 1953-75.

    6. The current Congressman Frelinghuysen has served since 1995.

    I do not know to what extent this history resonates with New Jersey voters or is even known to them, but it is remarkable.

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 09:10:33 AM PST

  •  FYI, Angela Gandolfo ended her campiagn (0+ / 0-)

    Recently.  She isn't running anymore.

  •  NJ-06 (0+ / 0-)

    Your assessment is a bit short-sighted on Janice Kovach.  She just recently started her campaign in the last 2-3 weeks and so you have to give her time.  Can't call the election already.

    •  Part of the reason I'm a bit down on Kovach (0+ / 0-)

      is Lance has had a strong challenger before and overcame it relatively easily in a wave year in which he was not the incumbent.  Kovach is going to have to do the impossible just to keep up with the 2008 Democrat, let alone surpass her.

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