NJ-2: Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) will not Seek Re-election

And we have another retirement from a swing-district Republican. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R), a popular moderate who has locked down his purple Atlantic City and South Jersey seat for twelve terms, will not seek a thirteenth. LoBiondo’s decision instantly puts this R+1 seat onto the board. The seat covers the Atlantic City metro area, the Cape May and Vineland areas, small-town Deep South Jersey (aka “Pretty Much Alabama”) and finishing up by taking in blue-collar southern Philly exurbs of Gloucester County. This is a relatively downscale district that moved toward Trump, but still has a large Dem base that will make the general election very competitive. Complicating a Great Mentioner for this seat is the fact that essentially every possible candidate here is running for an office today. So today’s results may have a big effect on who is in or out. But I’ll still try –

Democrats interestingly enough have a very deep bench in this seat thanks to the powerful local machine of George Norcross (D), but one name stands head and shoulders above the others: State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D), a moderate who has locked down a red Cape May State Senate seat. Van Drew would be by far the strongest candidate for Democrats and would probably start as at least a slight general election favorite if he ran without LoBiondo in the race. However, Van Drew has turned down overture after overture from the DCCC to challenge LoBiondo, and he just may not be interested in going to Congress. Other possible names on the area’s deep Dem bench include Van Drew’s proteges, State Reps. Bruce Land (D) and Bob Andreczjak (D), as well as State Rep. Adam Taliaferro (D). State Rep. John Burzichelli (D) represents a big chunk of the seat but lives outside of it, while State Rep. Vince Mazzeo (D) also represents a big chunk of the district but has some foot-in-mouth tendencies. One more name to mention is State Senate Pres. Steve Sweeney (D), a top Norcross ally who may be booted from the Senate Presidency due to being insufficiently slavish to the Teachers’ Union. However, Sweeney lives in NJ-1 and that seems a more likely landing spot for him if Rep. Donald Norcross (D) moves to the Senate. From outside the legislature, there is Atlantic County commissioner and current State Senate candidate Colin Bell (D).

Republicans somewhat surprisingly have a much thinner bench. The top recruit here is almost certainly State Rep. Chris Brown (R), who is facing (today) a tight race for a blue State Senate seat. Win or lose that race, he is likely to get an NRCC call. Second after him is probably Atlantic CE Dennis Levinson (R), who has won a long tenure in his blue county.  Another potential recruit currently seeking a State Senate seat is Salem County GOP chair Fran Greiner (R), who is doing well in his uphill race today against Sweeney. Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian (R), win or lose his current tough re-election race in his deep-blue city, could also be an intriguing candidate. Former Philadelphia Eagle and 2014 NJ-1 candidate Garry Cobb (R) could also be a possibility as he gained some buzz despite running in a deep-blue district. From the prior legislator file, ex-State Reps. Vince Polistina (R), John Amodeo (R), and Sam Fiocchi (R) could be worth mentions.

It looks likely that the nominees here will be settled far ahead of time though, as this area is extremely machine-dominated and Norcross and the GOP bosses will anoint nominees. This general election is sure to be competitive, but a big question is how much Norcross wants this seat. The state level is where his bread is buttered, and Norcross has been known to not play hard in federal races (as in the 2014 NJ-3 race where he all but cut off Dems’ nominee for an open purple seat). Thus it is a distinct possibility that Dems’ efforts here could be weaker than the lean of the seat and year might indicate.

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  • pstchrisp November 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Sham, wow! Good writeup on short notice. Everything I’ve heard through the years is Van Drew was waiting out LoBo, so his non-interest in the past should not be indicative of his potential entry this time. I’d bet he’s in. Guardian is probably more liberal than Van Drew, so I don’t see him as a legit candidate for the Rs (Which probably means he’s the nominee). Seriously though, I think Levinson is stronger than Brown. I think Levinson vs Van Drew would be a pure toss up, remember Van Drew is popular but he’s not as well-known outside of Cape May and the surrounding area.

    • krazen1211 November 7, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Van Drew is also 65 years old.

      • pstchrisp November 7, 2017 at 4:35 pm

        Might be a plus for him if he wants to retire from the dental practice anyway!

  • edtorres04 November 7, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Any thoughts on William Gormley?

    • Indy1975a November 7, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      He lost a primary to LoBiondo in 1994, and LoBiondo was the conservative in that race. People who think LoBiondo was too moderate, well Gormley would have been to the left of Susan Collins. Regardless, he is 71, has lost multiple races, and probably not a serious option.

      Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

  • HoneyBee November 7, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Frank LoBiondo voted for the biggest tax increase in the history of the United States, yet he refused to vote to repeal Obamacare. This seat voted for Donald Trump. We can get a better Republican in there. And under a Trump Presidency, what’s the difference between LoBiondo and a Democrat anyways?

    Former Anti-Trump Rubio supporter in the primaries. Trump is now my favorite Republican

    • Indy1975a November 7, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      The big difference between LoBiondo and other moderate Rs and a D is having a R House or having a D House. And the effects of that could be yuge.
      If we had President Rubio or Cruz, or even President Kasich or Jeb Bush, your argument would be valid. But under President Trump, who knows how he would behave with a D majority in the House? Trump would love to take credit for the “best bills” that the D House would pass.

      Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

      • HoneyBee November 7, 2017 at 6:37 pm

        The difference between Trump and Kasich is that Trump has actually governed like a conservative so far.

        The only thing Trump would side with Ds on is infrastructure, which I actually agree with him on, in fact, I think that Trump’s infrastructure plan made with public private partnerships and tolls is a brilliant idea.

        And like I said, LoBiondo will support some of those “Brilliant” dem Ideas as well. Like the biggest tax increase in the history of America!

        Would I rather have LoBiondo or a D? Lobiondo. Would I rather have a 50% chance of a good R and a 50% chance of a D with another shot to take out the D in 2020 or Lobiondo? Definitely taking option 1.

        Former Anti-Trump Rubio supporter in the primaries. Trump is now my favorite Republican

        • Indy1975a November 7, 2017 at 6:39 pm

          He’s governed like a conservative because Rs have all the power in Congress. If that changes, President Trump could change too, especially if thinks that the Congressional Rs are incompetent. It’s not like Trump has been a lifelong conservative with strong principles.

          Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

    • andyroo312 November 7, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      Yup, keep that GOP tent nice and small!


  • shamlet November 7, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Interesting irrelevant historical fact from this: Without LoBiondo, if the other 7 run and are re-elected there will now be more Democrats of the ’94 freshman class (4: Doyle, Doggett, SJL, Lofgren) left continuously serving than Republicans (3: Thornberry, Frelinghuysen, Jones). Though there are also 2 redshirt ’94 Rs, Chabot and Sanford.

    R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

  • rdelbov November 7, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    I actually think 2018 is likely like a good GOP year in NJ.

    The Ds might have an appealing Bob Menendez on the top of the ticket. While the new D governor is unpopular due to caving in to the union on pension and benefits.

    Thankful to see this seat open in 2018 and not 2016 or 2020. The lower turnout will help the Rs here.

    • Indy1975a November 7, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      Rs probably would have won this open seat in 2016, Trump won the district.

      Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

      • cer November 7, 2017 at 6:53 pm

        ….and they can still probably win it in 2018 with the right candidate.

        Conservative first, Republican second!

    • edtorres04 November 7, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      I think menendez will be expelled.

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